Los Alamos leads the pack

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By Ralph Damiani

There was an interesting report released this week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor  Statistics office.

It listed employment and average salaries for all counties in the state. What was interesting for us is that Los Alamos was far and away the leader in pay.

Something that is of no surprise to those of us here.

But what was somewhat interesting was the fact that our workforce is almost equal to our population.

Bernalillo County led the state in numbers of workers at 337,200 as of December. This is a half-of-a percent increase from 2006.

Bernalillo was the only large county in New Mexico – one with more than 75,000 jobs.

Here, Los Alamos reported 17,487 people working (and remember, our population is around 18,500).  This places us at 11th out of the state’s 33 counties.

Santa Fe had a workforce of 66,530, Sandoval was at 28,847 and Rio Arriba had a workforce of 11,171.

New Mexico as a whole had 831,713 people working.

As to wages, well Los Alamos ran away with the prize. The average weekly wage here was $1,222, compared to the state average of $738, ranking the state at 38th among the 50 states.

We were well above the second-place county, which had Eddy and Lea (two oil patch areas) tied at $860.

Santa Fe was at $798, Sandoval was at $780 and Rio Arriba came in at $566 a week on average.

Guadalupe County came in last at $451 a week, behind Sierra at $490.   

When all 33 counties in New Mexico are considered, only Los Alamos has an average wage exceeding that for the nation, while six other counties had weekly wages exceeding $750 per week.

Fifteen counties reported weekly wages between $550 and $750, while the remaining 11 counties had wages below $550.

Among the 328 largest counties in the United States, Bernalillo County’s average wage placed it in the bottom half of the national rankings, at 209th. Average weekly wages were higher than the $898 national average in 106 of the 328 largest counties in the United States.

New York County, N.Y., held the top position with an average weekly wage of $1,862. Santa Clara County, Calif., was second with an average wage of $1,700, followed by Fairfield, Conn. ($1,575), and Suffolk, Mass. ($1,546).  

At the other end of the wage scale, the lowest average weekly wage was reported in Cameron, Texas ($555), followed by Hidalgo, Texas ($562), Horry, S.C. ($582), Webb, Texas ($590), and Yakima, Wash. ($596).

New Mexico’s wage level is above that in neighboring Oklahoma ($721, 42nd), close to Utah’s ($758, 34th), but well below wages in other nearby states, including Colorado ($927, 9th), Texas ($911, 13th), and Arizona ($827, 22nd).


It is easy to get caught up in the bad news cycle. Bad news finds you, good news you too often have to seek out.

We try to present a balanced approach and recognizing the good things that our local youth do is one of the more pleasant tasks we have.

Last Sunday we got to see just how good our local youth can be as they organized and pulled off a wonderful event for the United Way – Dinner Over Diamond.

The work that our high school students have done for the community and United Way too often is under-reported. As much as we try, it still does not do them justice.

This event is just one example. The time and effort put in by this wonderful group of young adults was simply amazing.

And we all benefit.

So a big thanks has to go out to Keanna Cohen, Nat Gustafson, Aspen Gutgsell, Ben Havemann, Kevin McCurdy, Meghan Montoya, Kelsey Neal, Adam Nekimken, Benigno Sandoval, Chelsy Smith, Andrew Vierra and Beth Wendelberger for a wonderful job, well done.

Good students

Our students are really second to none. And why is that?

You can point to our good schools, our teachers and the students themselves. But one reason that often gets missed is the parents.

If you happened to go to the high school’s open house on Wednesday you saw a good reason why our students and our schools are at the top of the list - the parents.

The system only works when you have involved and informed parents.

And as you walked down the hallways and saw the hundreds and hundreds of parents there, you understood why our schools – and our students – are at the top of the list.