Latest stats reveal more New Mexicans out of work

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By Special to the Monitor

New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in February, up from 8.5 percent in January and 6.1 percent a year ago.


The national unemployment remained at 9.7 percent.


The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing February 2010 with February 2009, was negative 2.8 percent, representing a loss of 22,800 jobs, According to New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.


Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico ranked 31st and in the top two-thirds of states for job growth.


Although below the national average of negative 2.5 percent, New Mexico’s ranking is above the southwestern states of Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.


Four of the state’s 13 industries posted job growth since last year and nine others reported employment declines. The largest gains were in leisure and hospitality, which added 2,200 jobs. These gains have appeared in the last four months of sample survey data.


The number of government jobs is up by 1,400 overall, with a gain of 1,200 in federal government from hiring for Census 2010.


Losses are showing up at the state level, while local government is still reporting gains, but they total only 800 jobs.


The educational and health services industry also added jobs, up 1,300 since last year. Rounding out the gaining industries was information, which registered an increase of 200 jobs.


Every other industry lost jobs over the year. The goods-producing industries of mining, manufacturing, and construction have shed 13,400 jobs since last February. This loss is significant and has undermined many of the assumptions previously made about the state’s economy.


Mining was down 2,900 jobs over the year, while construction slipped by 8,600 and manufacturing by 1,900.


The professional and business services industry, often considered a barometer for the rest of the economy, reported employment that was down by 5,400 jobs from last year.


The transportation, warehousing and utilities industry lost 3,400 jobs, down 14.5 percent. Retail trade reported losses of 2,700, while the much smaller wholesale trade industry contracted by 1,300.


The miscellaneous other services category reported 1,600 fewer jobs. The financial activities industry also lost jobs, declining by 100 since last February.


New Mexico’s economy has been on a downward trend since job growth peaked at 3.5 percent in June 2006.


Starting in late 2008, the rate of decline increased, finally bottoming out at minus 4.9 percent during the period of September to October 2009. Since then, there’s been a gradual improvement to negative 2.8 percent.