New Mexico’s National High Unemployment Rate Of 5.3% Offset By 12% Projected Increase In New Job Creation

According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in March, down from 5.6 percent in February and down from 7.2 percent in the previous year. The national unemployment rate in March was 3.6 percent, down from 3.8 percent in February and down from 6.0 percent in March 2021.

Following are the statistics provided by New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions in its April 15 News Release:

“Total nonagricultural payroll employment grew by 48,300 jobs, or 6.1 percent, between March 2021 and March 2022. The majority of gains came from the private sector, which was up 43,500 jobs, or 7.0 percent.

The public sector was up 4,800 jobs, or 2.7 percent. Most private sector gains were in the private service-providing industries, which were up 34,600 jobs, or 6.6 percent, while the goods producing industries were up 8,900 jobs, representing an increase of 9.7 percent.

Eight major industry sectors reported over-the-year job increases. Leisure and hospitality experienced the largest employment growth with a gain of 20,100 jobs, or 26.0 percent, compared to the previous year.

Mining and construction employment rose by 6,800 jobs, or 10.4 percent.

The majority of gains were within the construction industry, which grew by 5,400 jobs, or 11.4 percent.
Mining employment was up 1,400 jobs, or 7.8 percent, over the year.

Trade, transportation, and utilities reported an increase of 5,700 jobs, or 4.3 percent.

Within the industry, retail trade was up 3,700 jobs, or 4.2 percent; wholesale trade was up 1,100 jobs, or 5.7 percent; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities was up 900 jobs, or 3.6 percent.

Professional and business services employment grew by 4,300 jobs, or 3.9 percent.

Miscellaneous other services, up 8.2 percent, manufacturing, up 7.7 percent, and education and health services, up 1.5 percent, each added 2,100 jobs.

Within manufacturing, durable goods manufacturing employment was up 1,500 jobs, or 10.1 percent, over the year.

Non-durable goods manufacturing was up 600 jobs, or 4.9 percent.

Within the education and health services industry, educational services was up 1,800 jobs, or 9.0 percent, and health care and social assistance was up 300 jobs, or 0.3 percent.

Financial activities was up 300 jobs, or 0.9 percent.

No major industry sector reported over-the-year losses. Within the public sector, employment in local government was up 4,100 jobs, or 4.4 percent.

Within local government, local government education was up 2,400 jobs, or 4.9 percent, and local government excluding education was up 1,700 jobs, or 3.9 percent.

State government was up 1,000 jobs, or 1.8 percent.

Within state government employment, state government education added 2,100 jobs, representing an increase of 8.8 percent. State government excluding education was down 1,100 jobs, or 3.5 percent.

Federal government reported a loss of 300 jobs, or 1.0 percent, from its employment level in March 2021”

New Mexico’s unemployment may be the highest the country, but the figure is considered somewhat misleading by experts. The unemployment rate may be high now, but over the next year it will be impacted by the job creation that is also occurring in the various industries.

University of New Mexico Associate Professor of Finance Dr. Reilly White said that after reviewing the unemployment numbers, it is shocking to some but New Mexico takes longer to recover from dips in the economy compared to other states. White believes the number are actually good and had this to say:

“This is often it sounds surprising for many people, but this is very typical, often here in New Mexico. … What we are in right now is still very much a recovering economy. … We have recovered, we’re recovering jobs, and they’re increasing in sectors that were hit the hardest by the pandemic.”

Dr. White said because of New Mexico’s workforce structure and labor force structure, the state doesn’t fire as many workers as most of the rest of the country as they have a higher number of people who work in government-related occupations and said but bringing people on has been the issue. White said:

We fire slower, but we hire slower. And that means our recovery takes longer than other parts of the country.

The problem is finding people to fill those positions. so many companies still have plenty of help-wanted signs hanging outside of their establishments. Several people have left the workforce, relying on subsidies like increased food benefits and programs to help pay for utilities, but speaking to trend the restaurant association says things are coming back but not at the pace they would like.

“Slowly but slowly, you know, it’s really, it’s not coming back as fast as it should with people still on unemployment. We should have those people employed.”


According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Labor Market Review, for February 2022:

“The number of unemployed New Mexicans in February 2022 decreased by 15,497 from the year before to 53,219. This is a decrease of 35,111 from the pandemic high of 88,330 in May 2020. There are currently more unemployed New Mexicans than before the pandemic, but unemployment levels have recovered faster than during the Great Recession.

For every month from January 2009 until November 2017, the number of unemployed New Mexicans was higher than February 2022. In February, both New Mexico’s labor force and seasonally adjusted employment saw over-the-month increases. The labor force increased by 2,713 since January 2022 and the seasonally adjusted employment increased by 4,929 over the same period. Since February 2021 the labor force grew by 8,616 and 24,113 New Mexicans became employed.”


“In December 2021, New Mexico was the nation’s second-largest oil-producing state, after Texas. New Mexico produced about 1.4 million barrels per day of crude oil, or about 11.8 percent of all crude oil in the United States. That same month, New Mexico produced about 5.8 percent of the nation’s total natural gas, the nation’s 7th top gas producing state. … The oil and gas extraction industry and the support activities for mining industry employed about 15,000 workers in the second quarter of 2021. Although this constitutes only 1.9 percent of total employment, the concentration of oil and natural gas workers is higher in New Mexico compared to other states.

Using the location quotient (LQ ) to measure occupational specialization, the LQ of workers in oil and gas extraction in New Mexico was 6.0 in 2020. … This means that the share of oil and gas extraction employment in New Mexico was 6 times that of the U.S average. Other states with very large employment shares in oil and gas extraction include Alaska (11.9), Wyoming (11.7), Oklahoma (9.5), North Dakota (7.3), and Texas (6.2).

The concentration of workers in support activities for mining was 9.2 in 2020 in New Mexico, the 4th highest in the country, after North Dakota (15.5), Wyoming (13.6) and Alaska (9.3). Workers in the oil and gas industry typically earned more than the statewide average. In 2020, workers in oil and gas extraction earned an average weekly wage of $2,233, more than twice the statewide average for all industries of $968 (Exhibit 4). Workers in support activities for mining earned an average of $1,361 a week, almost one-and-a-half times that of the statewide average.”

The link to the quoted source materials are here:

New Mexico Labor Market Review, February 2022


In February, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions issued its Economic and Workforce Analysis. New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions produced industry employment projections for nearly 100 industry subsectors. Growth in educational services, with just one subsector, educational services, leads growth in all other subsectors, primarily due to its size.

Three of the four health care and social assistance subsectors are found within the top six subsectors projected to grow the most and the top 5 projected to grow the fastest with the subsectors meeting both criteria.

Three retail subsectors are projected to experience significant employment increases, with the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealer’s subsector projected to grow the fastest at 35.9%.
The 4 subsectors comprising accommodation and food services and administrative and support and waste management and remediation services , listed as administrative and support services in the corresponding charts, are also listed.

Within accommodation and food services, employment in the food services and drinking places subsector is projected to grow by over 21%. The waste management and remediation services subsector in administrative and support services is projected to grow by 26.8% .


According to the economic and workforce analysis, overall employment in New Mexico is projected to increase by approximately 12% between 2012 and 2022, or approximately 101,610 jobs rounded off.

Upwards of 35% of annual openings, or 10,780 job openings, are anticipated to be new openings driven by increased demand. The remaining 65% of annual openings, or 19,760, are projected to be openings from replacement needs, as employers replace workers leaving the occupation including retirements or occupational change.

Employment growth in each of four industries of health care and social assistance, educational services, accommodation and food services and retail trade is projected to comprise over 10% of net growth over the projection period. Following is the breakdown in each of the 4 major industries:

Health care and social assistance: 29,490 more jobs projected , representing 29.0% of net projected growth.

Educational Services: 18,430 more jobs projected, representing 18.1% of net projected growth;
Accommodation and Food services: 16,030 more jobs projected , representing 15.8% of net projected growth

Retail Trade: 10,930 more jobs projected, representing 10.8% of net projected growth.

The link to the quoted source material is here:


Elected and government officials always wring their hands, worry and complain about unemployment, especially in an election year, such as 2022, when their own jobs are at stake and they have to face voters. Although New Mexico’s does indeed have the highest unemployment rate in the country, that number is offset by the State’s job creation. Both go hand in hand, and at this point next year, it’s likely the State’s unemployment rate will be down, at least that’s what the politicians are hoping.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.