August 19, 2022, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) released an Economic Update on the state’s unemployment rates. Highlights of the report are as follows:
New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in July, down from 4.9 percent in June and down from 7.0 percent in the previous year. The national unemployment rate in July was 3.5 percent, down from 3.6 percent in June and down from 5.7 percent in July 2021.
Total nonagricultural payroll employment grew by 31,700 jobs, or 3.9 percent, between July 2021 and July 2022. The majority of gains came from the private sector, which was up 31,500 jobs, or 4.9 percent. The public sector was up 200 jobs, or 0.1 percent. Most private sector gains were in the private service-providing industries, which were up 21,400 jobs, or 3.9 percent, while the goods-producing industries were up 10,100 jobs, representing an increase of 10.6 percent.
Within the goods-producing industries, mining and construction employment rose by 8,000 jobs, or 11.8 percent. The majority of gains were within the construction industry, which grew by 6,700 jobs, or 13.7%. Mining employment was up 1,300 jobs, or 6.9 percent, over the year.
Manufacturing was up 2,100 jobs, or 7.6%. Within manufacturing, durable goods manufacturing employment was up 1,400 jobs, or 9.2%, over the year. Non-durable goods manufacturing was up 700 jobs, or 5.6%.
Within the private service providing industries, trade, transportation, and utilities was up 2,400 jobs, or 1.8%. Within this industry, retail trade was up 1,800 jobs, or 2.0%; transportation, warehousing, and utilities was up 800 jobs, or 3.2%; and wholesale trade was down 200 jobs, or 1.0%.
Professional and business services was up 5,400 jobs or 4.9%.
Education and health services was up 5,100 jobs, or 3.8%. Within the industry, educational services was up 4,300 jobs, or 26.7%, and health care and social assistance was up 800 jobs, or 0.7%.
Leisure and hospitality experienced a gain of 10,200 jobs, or 10.9%, compared to the previous year, while miscellaneous other services was up 200 jobs, or 0.7%.
Employment in information and financial activities declined from July 2021; information was down 800 jobs, or 7.3 percent, while financial activities was down 1,100 jobs, or 3.3%.
Within the public sector, state government was up 1,000 jobs, or 2.0 percent. Within state government employment, state government education added 1,400 jobs, representing an increase of 7.7%.
State government excluding education was down 400 jobs, or 1.3 percent. Federal government was down 200 jobs, or 0.7%, from last year’s level.
Employment in local government was down 600 jobs, or 0.7%. Within local government, local government education was down 1,100 jobs, or 2.6%, and local government excluding education employment increased by 500, or 1.0%, from last year.
The link to the Department of Workforce Solution report is here:
DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
The August 19 Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) reported that New Mexico’s unemployment dropped to the lowest it has been since September 2008. The DWS reported that the unemployment rate for the state in July stood at 4.5%, a drop from 4.9% in June of this year and a year-over-year decrease from 7% from July 2021. This is the second month in a row the unemployment rate has come in below 5% this year.
Even with the unemployment rate dropping, there is still a need for more workers across all industries. According to DWS, online job postings have soared over the past year. State records show that more than 23,000 new jobs were advertised online in New Mexico than the same time last year.
The largest gains in employment came in the goods-producing sector. It saw an increase of more than 10,000 jobs year over year. The construction industry saw an increase of 13.7%, or about 6,700 jobs, since the same time last year. Professional and business services saw an increase of 5,400 jobs. The Department of Workforce Solutions report showed Bernalillo County’s unemployment standing at 4.2% in July. Santa Fe County had an unemployment rate of 4.1% and Doña Ana had a rate of 5%.
New Mexico’s employment levels have grown since plunging in the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the states 4.9% unemployment rate for June was the nation’s highest, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s unemployment trails nearly all other states across the country. New Mexico’s unemployment rate is tied with Alaska. Only the District of Columbia has a higher rate of unemployment.
According to state Taxation and Revenue Department data, while national employment has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, the state is about 10,000 jobs short of reaching its total workforce of 861,200 residents that existed in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
STATE STRUGLES WITH EMPLOYMENT SHORTAGES
Despite the reduction in unemployment rates, the state is struggling with a low workforce participation rate which is the measurement of working-aged adults that are participating in the labor force and who are looking for a job. According to the Department of Workforce solutions (DWS), there is a need for more workers across all industries. The DWS says it has been focusing on the issue by setting up programs funded largely by federal dollars and creating a template for outreach to non-working New Mexicans.
INDSUTRIES NEEDING FAR MORE WORKERS
According to the Department of Workforce Solutions report, industries where there is a major need for more workers include the construction industry, the health care industry, the manufacturing industry and government. The Manufacturing industry saw an increase of 2,100 jobs needing to be filled within the last full year. Professional and business services saw an increase of 5,400 jobs needing to be filled.
THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
Jim Garcia, the Executive Director for the Associated Contractors of New Mexico, said there is a need for increases in the construction industry. Garcia noted that jobs in the construction industry typically start at $20 an hour. The construction industry is looking to market higher paying jobs benefits to prospective job seekers. Garcia said this:
“We could use 5,000 more employees tomorrow. … There’s a heavy need for it now and we’re going to be an attractive future for a lot of people. … Essentially, we became a good place to work. … It could be a lot of things, but, you know, you don’t have to have a degree to get in our industry and make a lot of money.”
THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY
Janna Christopher, director of clinical recruitment for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, handles the hiring of registered nurses, physical therapists and other licensed clinicians. According to Christopher, the hospital has seen an overall decrease in the number of applications through her office.
The decrease in applicants is not limited to Presbyterian. Health care providers across the state are struggling with hiring and retaining clinicians. Many health care providers are simply leaving the state’s health care industry and leaving the state to go elsewhere to be paid more. A 2021 report from the New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee showed the state needed about 6,223 more nurses to hit benchmarks for the state based on population.
Christopher said Presbyterian has shifted its focus on new graduates, investing in its nursing residency program “so that we can really fill that void.”
THE LEISURE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The leisure and hospitality industry had the largest growth in employment by headcount of all industries across the state. The leisure and hospitality industry saw substantial growth over the past year with 11,000.
Jim Long, the CEO of Heritage Hotels & Resorts Inc., which owns Sawmill Market, Hotel Chaco and a list of other resorts across New Mexico, said that the growth in the Leisure and Hospitality Industry is largely due to the industry recovering slower than others. His company has seen an increase of about 750 employees in the past year, and it is still hiring. Long said this:
“I don’t see it … [as a] hiring frenzy as much as just getting back to normalcy.”
According to the DWS report, state government employment is down with 400 jobs vacancies while local government employment is down by 600 jobs, or 0.7 percent. Local government education employment is down 1,100 jobs, or 2.6 percent, and local government excluding education employment increased by 500, or 1.0 percent, from last year.
REACTION TO UNEMPLYMENT RATES
Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state’s lower unemployment rate is a win for the state. Grisham said this:
“We continue to see substantial job growth in nearly every sector, from hospitality and retail to construction and manufacturing. … As we continue to expand the state’s workforce by investing in free college and workforce training, creating more opportunities than ever for New Mexico families, our state’s economy is going to continue to improve.”
Belen Republican State Senator Greg Baca disagreed with the Governor’s positive assessment of the state’s low unemployment rate with Baca pointing to a University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research that predicts slower economic growth for the state compared to the national average. Baca said this:
“This is politics at its worst. … The real story here is that New Mexico has the highest unemployment rate of any state in the country, and according to analysts, we are currently on track to experience slower than national economic growth.”
Links to quoted sources are here:
JUNE 2022 DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS REPORT
The June 2022 New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions report on unemployment and job numbers are worth noting given the extent unemployment was reduced.
In June 2022, the Department of Workforce solutions reported the number of unemployed New Mexicans was 46,432, a decline of 32.5% or 22,393 people, from 2021. Since May 2020 when it peaked at 88,330, the number of unemployed has declined by almost half. There are currently less unemployed New Mexicans than before the pandemic.
In June, New Mexico’s labor force saw an over-the-month increase of 0.1%, or 971 people. Since June 2021 the labor force grew by 5,779, or 0.6 percent. In June, New Mexico’s labor force saw an over-the-month increase of 0.1%, or 971 people. Since June 2021 the labor force grew by 5,779, or 0.6%.
Over the year, New Mexico’s total nonagricultural employment increased by 45,100 jobs, or 5.6 percent. Most of these gains were in the private sector, which was up 41,300 jobs, or 6.5 percent. The public sector was up 3,800 jobs, or 2.2%. Eight of the nine major private industry sectors reported employment increases over the year.
Leisure and hospitality reported a gain of 13,500 jobs, or 15.1%. Employment in mining and construction was up 8,300 jobs, or 12.7%. Most gains in mining and construction came from construction, which grew by 7,000 jobs, or 14.8%.
Mining employment was up 1,300 jobs, or 7.1%. Professional and business services employment expanded by 6,200 jobs, or 5.7%.
Employment in Trade, Transportation, and Utilities was up 4,400 jobs, or 3.3%. Within the industry, retail trade was up 2,600 jobs; transportation, warehousing, and was up 1,200 jobs; and wholesale trade was up 600 jobs.
Miscellaneous other services employment grew by 1,100 jobs, or 4.0%.
Manufacturing was up 2,400 jobs, or 8.8%, with the majority of jobs in durable goods manufacturing.
Education and Health Services was up 4,900 jobs, or 3.6%. The majority of gains within the industry were in education services.
Information Technology was up 500 jobs, or 5.3%.
Financial activities was unchanged from the rate in June 2021.
In the public sector, local government was up 3,000 jobs, or 3.3 percent. Employment in state government was up 1,100 jobs, or 2.2 percent.
The federal government reported a loss of 300 jobs in New Mexico, or 1.0 percent.
Over the year, the Albuquerque metro area grew by 16,200 jobs in total nonfarm employment, representing a gain of 4.3 percent.
The following is the breakdown in the private sector industries that added jobs:
Leisure and hospitality: up 5,500 jobs, a 13.9% increase
Trade, transportation, and utilities: up 3,900 jobs, a 6.3% increase
Mining and construction employment: up 3,300 jobs, a 13.0% increase
Professional and business services: up 1,700 jobs, a 2.8% increase
Manufacturing: up 1,000 jobs, a 6.2% increase
Information and Technology: up 500 jobs, a 9.8% increase
Miscellaneous other services: up 400 jobs, a 3.5% increase
Education and Health Services: up 300 jobs, a 0.5% increase
Financial activities was unchanged from the previous year’s employment level.
Public sector, state government: up 200 jobs, a 0.8% increase
Federal government: down 400 jobs, a 2.7% decrease
Local government: down 200 jobs, a 0.6% decrease
Links to Department of Workforce Solutions source materials are here:
DRAMATIC SPIKE IN STATE REVENUES
On August 16, during a meeting of the influential New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee held in Chama, New Mexico, legislators were told the state will have a staggering projected $2.5 billion in “new” money during the 2023 budget year that starts on July 1, 2023. The total revenue is forecast is to rise from $9.2 billion in the fiscal year that just ended to nearly $10.9 billion for 2023. The projections were reported by the LFC executive economists.
The LFC economists reported that the $2.5 money, which represents the difference between current spending levels and projected new revenue, is in addition to a projected budget surplus of nearly $3.8 billion for the current fiscal year and with upwards of $2.6 billion to go into the state’s early childhood trust fund.
The LFC economist report indicated New Mexico’s economy will experience slower than national economic growth in the near term but will have relatively faster growth in 2023. The LFC economist report said the state’s economic outlook is tied to inflation, monetary policy, and other broader economic mechanisms as the national outlook.”
The projected $10.9 billion in revenue for the coming fiscal year will be more than double the $5.4 billion in revenue the state took in a little over a decade ago during the 2011 fiscal year.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It’s truly pathetic how Republicans such as Republican State Senator Greg Baca refuse to acknowledge the leadership of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham when it comes to job creation and economic development. It is Republican fools like State Senator Greg Baca who “plays politics at its worse” with his propaganda conveniently ignoring what happened for the full 8 years under the leadership of former Governor “She Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken”.
Under the former Republican Governor’s watch for 8 years, and with the “lock step” loyalty of the likes of Senator Greg Baca, New Mexico’s unemployment rates reached the all-time record high of 7.8% and for a full 7 years of her 8-year term unemployment rates hovered at 7.8% and 6.1%. Vacancies in state government spiked and reached all-time highs as she gutted state government and programs to balance the budget proclaiming as Republicans do that government was too big in order avoid any and all tax increases. The Republican Governor destroyed the state’s Public Education System to the point that in a landmark court hearing, a judge declared at risk students were being deprived of the constitutional right to an education and the same Republican Governor gutted the State’s Mental Health Care system falsely claiming criminal by 15 mental health care providers with the Attorney General investigating and eventually absolving the 15 mental health care providers of all wrongdoing.
In 3 years and 6 months under the leadership of Lujan Grisham, the unemployment rate is now 4.5% and is going down even further, the education system is finally being funded as it should, the state’s mental health care system is being restored and economic development is surging. Despite all the negativity espoused against Governor Mitchell Lujan Grisham by the Republican party and her weatherman Republican opponent, it is clear that the state is in fact pulling out of and is on the road to a full recovery of the effects of the pandemic. The states revenues are up dramatically with the state experiencing record levels of income and the State’s unemployment rates are in fact making a dramatic decline to pre pandemic levels.