The economy added 2,600 jobs during the year, but the number of people working, or looking for work, declined, and the number of unemployed people rose
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
New Mexico’s economy had another dismal showing in the year that ended Dec. 31, with a job growth rate of 0.3 percent and the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 6.7 percent. That’s even less than the 0.4 percent growth rates for October and November.
The economy added 2,600 jobs during the year, but the number of people working, or looking for work, declined, and the number of unemployed people rose, according to figures released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Six industry sectors lost jobs, and five gained them. The biggest loser was mining and logging, which includes the oil and gas industry; it shed 2,600 jobs for a 9.2 percent decline. Construction lost 1,500 jobs, or 3.5 percent; and manufacturing continued its decade-long slide by losing 700 jobs for a 2.8 percent decline.
Other losing sectors were: trade, transportation and utilities, minus 1.9 percent; information, minus 4.7 percent; and other services, minus 1.4 percent.
The biggest winner was the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 4,400 jobs for a 5 percent growth rate. But that sector has the lowest average annual wage–$16,113–of any industry.
The professional and business services sector added 2,500 jobs for a 2.5 percent growth rate, and the education and health services sector gained 2,900 jobs for a 2.2 percent growth rate.
There were two troubling signs for New Mexico’s economy. The civilian labor force, that is, the number of people working or actively seeking jobs, fell by 7,100, or 0.8 percent during the year. A declining civilian labor force can indicate that people have become discouraged with the job market and have quit looking for work. And, the number of people in the state without jobs grew by 4,900, or 8.7 percent.
The economic situation was brightest in the Albuquerque metro area, which added 5,000 jobs for a 1.3 percent growth rate. But the three other major metro areas—Farmington, Las Cruces and Santa Fe—all lost jobs during the year.
Here’s how New Mexico’s job growth rate compared to other states in the region:
Arizona: +65,700; +2.5 percent
Colorado: +47,200; +1.9 percent
Nevada: +25,300; +2 percent
New Mexico: +2,600; +0.3 percent
Oklahoma: -8,700; -0.5 percent
Texas: +169,000; +1.4 percent
Utah: +43,000; +3.2 percent