Lafayette Economy: Top Industries, Biggest Employers, & Business Opportunities

Lafayette Economy Guide

Lafayette, located along the Vermilion River in southwestern Louisiana, is the parish seat of Lafayette Parish and the fourth-largest city in the state. Lafayette has a population of about 126,185, with a greater metro population of just under 500,000.

If you're considering a move to Lafayette, it's a good idea to get a feel for the region's economy as you make your decision. Lafayette has a civilian workforce of nearly 206,000 people. The city has a diverse economy supported by a variety of industries including manufacturing, energy, education, and tourism. This range of industries makes it a great place to find work.

Lafayette Industries

Lafayette and the region surrounding it have historically been a center for energy production and services in the southeastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico. Today, Lafayette has a more diversified economy, positioning itself as a medical, education, transportation, entertainment, and retail hub.

It was this economic diversification, along with diversification of the energy sector itself, that helped to insulate the city from the downturn in the energy sector in 2014. At the time of the energy crisis of the 1980s, as much as 70% of Lafayette's economy relied on the energy sector, compared to just 29% today. The energy sector still consists of hundreds of oil- and gas-related businesses and a highly-skilled workforce.

The Lafayette metro area's medical industry boasts a workforce of more than 28,000 employees and continues to expand with the medical construction boom. The city has built its reputation as a regional health center due to this boom.

Construction activity reached $246,000 last year, thanks to increases in residential and commercial development, along with improvements of existing facilities. More than one million tourists visit the area every year, which has helped to bolster the retail trade, hospitality, and entertainment industries.

Lafayette is also home to a substantial finance industry, including 36 financial institutions with a combined $12 billion in deposits.

The area's manufacturing industry has transformed itself from traditional, low-tech industries to modern, high-tech environments including robotics and intelligent manufacturing systems. The city has worked to attract tech-intensive industries. In the past two years, four companies announced the creation of more than 1,100 tech jobs in Lafayette.

The city's location at the intersection of two interstate highways is a logistics advantage for businesses there. In addition, industry benefits from Lafayette's proximity to major ports as well as rail transport.

Top Industries in Lafayette

  • Finance
  • Construction
  • Retail
  • Tourism
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Information Technology
  • Legal

Top Employers in Lafayette

Top career sectors in Lafayette are healthcare with 13.4% of the workforce, accommodations and food service at 12.4% of the workforce, and retail trade at 11.3% of the workforce. Other major job sectors include educational services at 9.2%; professional, scientific and technical services at 8.5%; and oil and gas extraction at 7.3%.

The Top Employers in Lafayette, LAOne quarter of the local workforce is employed in what is sometimes referred to as "wealth-creating" industries: energy, construction, manufacturing, and information technology.

The top employer in Lafayette Parish is Waitr, an information technology company that developed a mobile app specializing in connecting restaurants and customers through delivery drivers. The company's headquarters are in Lafayette, where it employs 5,915 people.

Lafayette General Health is the region's largest non-profit regional health system and employs over 4,300 people in Lafayette Parish. In addition to its flagship hospital, Lafayette General Medical Center, the system owns or manages six other hospitals and has clinical affiliations throughout the region.

A third top employer in Lafayette Parish is Lafayette Parish School System, which is the public school district serving all of Parish County. The district employs 4,250 staff and educators and is based in Lafayette.

The University of Louisiana-Lafayette is the fourth-largest employer in Lafayette Parish with 2,752 employees. The school is a public research university in Lafayette and has the second largest enrollment in Louisiana.

Lafayette Parish's fifth-largest employer is Lafayette Consolidated Government with 2,419 employees. LCG is the combined governments of the city of Lafayette and Lafayette Parish. Offices are located in the city of Lafayette.

Our Lady of Lourdes is Lafayette Parish's sixth-largest employer in Lafayette Parish with 2,248 employees. The regional acute care medical center in Lafayette is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, the largest locally-owned, non-profit health system in the state.

Lafayette Economy Facts and Figures

With a population of 251,273, Lafayette Parish's population is expected to grow to 267,130 in the next five years. Lafayette Parish is home to about 15,000 businesses, and its civilian workforce numbers 193,218 people in the greater Lafayette metro area. Lafayette's unemployment rate in 2019 was 3.4% for the metro area, which is lower than the national average.

The overall cost of living in Lafayette is 93.5, about 6.5% lower than the national average. The grocery index is also 93.5, while the housing index is slightly lower at 89.7. The healthcare index is 88.8%, while the cost of utilities is the lowest expense with an index of 81.2. The largest expense for Lafayette residents compared to the national average is the cost of transportation, with an index at 104.

Lafayette job growth has increased 0.3% over the last year. Future job growth over the next decade is projected to reach 12.2%, lower than the national average of 33.5%. About 77% of Lafayette residents work within the city.

The median household income in the city of Lafayette is $48,533. The median household income in Lafayette Parish is higher at about $55,250. The average hourly wage across all occupations in the Lafayette area is $20.01.

Those employed in the computer, engineering, and science sectors had the highest median salary at $72,633. Those working in the management, business, and financial occupations had the second highest median salary, at $68,386. The median income of those working in the healthcare fields is $55,000.

The median sale price for a home in Lafayette is $215,000. Neighborhood median prices range from $639,500 in Greenbriar to $137,500 in Eunice.

The sales tax rate for Lafayette is 8.5%, compared to the U.S. average of 7.3%. The income tax rate for Lafayette is 6%, which is higher than the national average of 4.6%.

Living and Working in Lafayette

Lafayette is one of the top 10 cities in the U.S. for economic growth. Its range of tax and business incentives and widely-available financing assistance for companies has made the region particularly attractive to businesses.

Although its economy is more diversified today—with healthcare, finance, construction, information technology, and manufacturing all significant—Lafayette is still the center of the oil and gas industry, with hundreds of associated businesses in the region.

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