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Workforce Solutions is an oxymoron

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By Hal Rhodes

I voted early this year. On the afternoon of Oct. 21 as matter of fact, exactly two weeks to the day before the Nov. 4 general election.
Actually, early voting has become something of a tradition around my house.
After months of following the campaigns, watching seemingly endless hours of offensive, negative political TV ads and pondering the choices that will confront me when I enter my polling place, it just feels good to cast my ballot and be done with it.
I have sometimes wondered if I’m not subconsciously operating on the assumption that if I vote early they’ll shut up out there, stop insulting my intelligence with all those bogus charges and phony claims, which no one, save the most intoxicated partisan, believes in the first place.
The subconscious is quite often delusional, on the other hand.
This year my decision to early-vote and get it over with was stimulated by a “news” release that burped up in my email from an agency of state government, known as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
People in my line of work get a great many emailed “news” releases from government agencies, state and federal, city and county, you name it, and ironically most of them rarely make the “news” thanks to the “delete” buttons Microsoft and Apple thoughtfully included with our computer systems.
Which is not to say they all go unread?
Indeed I can assure you that at least one Workforce Solutions (aka NMDWS) press release every month invariably prompts this reporter to take notice.
That would be the department’s monthly report setting forth the latest hard numbers concerning employment and unemployment in this enchanted land, along with other data including the rate of job growth and/or job losses the state has experienced over the past reporting period.
As it happened, the New Mexico Workforce Solutions Department’s report for the month of September arrived in my email in box on the morning I would early-vote later that afternoon. It was just the latest evidence revealing just how dismal New Mexico’s dismal economy remains.
The first sentence tells the tale and pulls no punches: “The rate of over-the-year job growth for nonfarm payroll employment, comparing September 2014 with September 2013, was .08 percent…”
“This represents a gain of 6,400 jobs,” it explained, “over the past 13 months.”
Here we are just two weeks out from an election, surrounded by states where tens of thousands of jobs have been added over the past 13 months, nearly 10 percent in some cases, and a key department of a New Mexico governor seeking a second term has to admit that the state’s job growth over the past month was a miserable 0.8 percent.
On top of that, the governor’s own department is forced to acknowledge that the less than 1 percent by way of job growth it reported this month was “the largest all-industry increase” New Mexico has experienced in over a year.
And the kicker is virtually every poll conducted on the 2014 race for governor in New Mexico assures us that this incumbent governor will almost certainly win reelection by one of the largest landslides in state history.
The enduring virtue of democracy is that we get the government we deserve.
All that notwithstanding, this month’s and practically all other recent month’s jobs reports issued by the Workforce Solutions Department would seem to suggest that this is a seriously misnamed agency.
If, as most economists contend, the key to what ails New Mexico’s economy is vastly improved job growth, Workforce S0olutions is at the very least an oxymoron.