Friday, August 22, 2008

Jobs: July

New Mexico's job picture continues to deteriorate. But, hey, take heart, "The state's unemployment rate remained below the national rate of 5.7%," said the Department of Workforce Services in its news release yesterday.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate cracked the 4% barrier in July, rising to 4.1% from 3.9% in June and 3.8% in May. Folks, this is a trend, not a single data point. The unemployment rate is up by about a third since the record low of 3.1% in January.
Job growth statewide was 0.9% from July 2007 to July 2008. The job growth rate had dropped from 1% in June and 1.1% in May. But, hey, DWS again says, for July, "New Mexico ranked twelfth highest among all states for job growth."
In the four-county Albuquerque metro, wage jobs have increased 0.3% over the July-to-July year. This July rate is actually a tenth of a point above the June-to-June annual increase of 0.2%.
Santa Fe scored its second month of year-over-year job losses, down 0.6% from July 2007.
For Farmington, annual job growth was 3.3%. For Las Cruces, it was 1.2%.
Perspective Matters
"We're doing OK," says one expert who watches the job numbers. DWS, as noted above, compares New Mexico favorably to the nation. My reaction: So?
DWS also says, "Overall, the Santa Fe job market has stagnated, (from July 2007 to July 2008) with only three of the area's 12 industries adding jobs." Yet Santa Fe has lost jobs, on an annual basis, for two months that are two of the three big tourist months. It's too soon to say Santa Fe is in a recession, one trustworthy wizard says. Four months of job losses would allow a recession proclamation, maybe from the steps of the Palace of the Governors where attendance has dropped 85% in 25 years.
My further reaction: Quibbling about the detail of a number isn't especially useful. (So says the numbers guy.)
What is clear is that the Albuquerque/Santa Fe "megapolitan" economy is treading water at best. And outside of Farmington, Las Cruces and Lea and Eddy counties, little is happening in the rest of the New Mexico economy.

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