New Mexico Economy Shows Signs Of Life

New Mexico Economy Shows Signs Of Life

Job growth OK, But Still Swamped By Surrounding States

New Mexico’s economy showed some life in the year that ended April 30, adding 7,400 jobs for a 0.9 percent growth rate.

But the job growth was swamped by those in surrounding states, with the exception of Oklahoma, and New Mexico still had the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 6.7 percent.

First the good news.

New Mexico’s private sector added 9,000 jobs over the year. Only three industry sectors – oil and gas, manufacturing and information – lost jobs. Six others gained jobs and one had no change.

The government sector, which accounts for 23 percent of all non-farm payroll jobs in the state, declined by 1,600 jobs during the year.

Some other good news: New Mexico’s civilian labor force, meaning those people who are employed and who are actively looking for work, increased by 10,000 people during the year. It means that people who had previously given up looking for work because there was no hope of finding any, started looking again. That, experts say, is a sign of growing confidence in an economy.

And, when people stop looking for work, they are not calculated into the jobless rate. New Mexico’s unemployment rate is high, in part, because more people are looking for work again, and they are counted against the jobless rate.

Now the lousy news.

New Mexico’s job growth was puny compared to surrounding states, with the exception of Oklahoma. Arizona added 51,900 jobs, for a 2 percent growth rate, while Utah added 46,700 jobs for a 3.3 percent growth rate.

The other bad news for New Mexico is that its manufacturing base continues to shrink. The sector lost 900 jobs over the year for a negative 3.7 percent growth rate. The state now has 26,200 manufacturing jobs. They account for 3.1 percent of all jobs.

Nationally, manufacturing accounts for 8 percent of all jobs.

The other bad news is that New Mexico remains one of five states that have yet to reach their pre-recession jobs levels. Jobs in New Mexico peaked at 849,900 in February of 2008. As of April, the state had 841,200 jobs.

Other states that still haven’t recovered from the recession are Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi and West Virginia.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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