Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jobs: August, Again

A bit of reality has finally crept into the monthly employment report from the Department of Workforce Services. In the September 25 news release about August employment, DWS starts with its trademark exaggeration, saying, "The New Mexico economy remains fairly resilient despite rising unemployment and lower job growth." Then comes reality. "The New Mexico economy is weak, but the national economy appears to be even weaker." Uh, yes... And given that after the events of the past couple of weeks, the national economy looks to get even more weak, and further given that the national economy is the prime determinant of New Mexico's performance, we look to get weaker.
Statewide year over year job growth was 0.6% in August, down from 0.9% in July and from 1.1% in May when the rate briefly broke 1%. As noted in my Saturday posting, the unemployment rate jumped to 4.6% in August, up half a point.
After summarizing metro area performance, DWS claims, "These distinct trends suggest that New Mexico now has increasingly localized economies, each with differing fortunes." This isn't true. New Mexico has always widely differing regional economies, maybe six of them.
Metro Albuquerque has lost 600 wage jobs over the August-to-August year, a 0.2% drop, with the big hit coming in manufacturing, in particular Intel's layoff last fall. Eclipse layoff will hit the numbers soon. Albuquerque construction employment has dropped for 20 months.
Statewide, construction added 100 jobs during the year. Instinct says the figure is flawed because the number of foreign born Hispanics declined in New Mexico during 2007. A good many of those folks, it is generally accepted, would have worked construction.
Santa Fe lost jobs for the third consecutive month, a 0.9% August-to-August drop. Leisure and hospitality, the non-government half of Santa Fe, lost jobs.
For August, Las Cruces scored the state's highest metro unemployment rate at 5%. Nothing new there. Wage jobs increased 1.2% during the year.
The Farmington metro areas—San Juan County—increased wage employment 3.1% during the year, growth of 1,600 jobs. Thank you oil and gas.

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