NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.6% in February, down from 5.9% in January and 7.3% a year earlier.
“What we’re in right now is still very much a recovering economy,” said University of New Mexico associate professor of finance Dr. Reilly White.
Dr. White said that after reviewing those unemployment figures, it could be a shock value to some
“This often sounds surprising to many people, but this is very typical, often here in New Mexico,” White said.
New Mexico takes longer to recover from downturns in the economy compared to other states, White said this report is good. “We have recovered, we are recovering jobs, and they are increasing in the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic,” White said.
The national unemployment rate in February was 3.8%, down from 4.0% in January and 6.2% in February 2021.
Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 50,100 jobs, or 6.4%, between February 2021 and February 2022. Most of the gains came from the private sector, which added 44,500 jobs, or a 7.3%. The public sector increased 5,600 jobs or 3.2%. Most of the private sector gains were in private service industries, which added 37,500 jobs, or 7.2%, while goods-producing industries added 7,000 jobs, up 7.7% increase
Seven major industry sectors reported job gains during the year. Leisure and hospitality saw the strongest job growth with a gain of 24,000 jobs, or 33.4%, compared to the previous year.
“That doesn’t make up for what we lost during the pandemic,” said Carol Wight, executive director of the New Mexico Restaurant Association. “So restaurants are still struggling with, um, fewer employees than before.”
Commerce, transportation and public services reported an increase of 6,400 jobs or 4.8%. Within industry, retail trade added 4,800 jobs, or 5.4%; transportation, storage and utilities increased 1,200 jobs or 4.8%; and wholesale trade increased 400 jobs or 2.1%.
Employment in mining and construction increased by 5,000 jobs or 7.8%. Most of the gains were in the construction industry, which grew by 3,600 jobs, or 7.8%. Mining employment increased 1,400 jobs, or 7.9%, during the year. Employment in professional and business services grew by 5,000 jobs or 4.6%.
Employment in education and health services expanded by 2,200 jobs, or 1.6%. Within the education and health services industry, education services increased 1,800 jobs, or 9.0%, and health care and social assistance increased 400 jobs, or 0.3%.
Manufacturing employment increased by 2,000 jobs or 7.4%. Within this industry, employment in durable goods manufacturing increased by 1,300 jobs, or 8.8%, during the year. Non-durable goods manufacturing increased 700 jobs or 5.8%. Employment in other miscellaneous services increased by 600 jobs or 2.3%. Financial activities were reduced by 600 jobs or 1.8%. The information was reduced by 100 jobs or 1.0%. Within the public sector, local government employment increased by 4,500 jobs or 4.9%.
Dr. White said that because of New Mexico’s workforce structure and workforce structure, the state doesn’t lay off as many workers as most of the rest of the country, as they have a larger number of people working in government-related occupations and said but attracting people has been the problem. “We fire slower, but we hire slower. And that means our recovery is taking longer than other parts of the country,” White said.
Within local government, local government education increased 2,500 jobs, or 5.2%, and local government excluding education increased 2,000 jobs, or 4.6%. The state government increased 1,600 jobs or 2.9%. Within state government employment, state government education added 2,100 jobs, representing an increase of 8.9%. State government, excluding education, lost 500 jobs or 1.6%. The federal government reported a loss of 500 jobs, or 1.7%, from its employment level in February 2021.
the problem is finding people to fill those positions. many businesses still have many “Help Wanted” signs hanging outside 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, just not at the pace they’d like.
“Slow but slow, you know, it’s really, it’s not coming back as fast as it should with people who are still unemployed. We should have those people employed.” said Wight.
A more detailed analysis will be provided in the Labor Market Review scheduled for publication on April 1.