Friday, March 11, 2011

Ambiguity Rules. Some Job Numbers Up, Some Down.

New Mexico tied Arizona for the fourth largest percentage employment decline between January 2010 and January 2011, according to federal figures released yesterday. The decline was small, 0.3%.
On a seasonally unadjusted basis, that meant 785,900 had wage jobs in the state during January, down from 789,400 in January 2010. In December, 802,200 had wage jobs. The monthly decline probably is explained by the end of holiday retail jobs. I didn’t find any retail numbers on the federal report. (See:
With the seasonal adjustment, things change. New Mexico reports a 2,200-wage job increase (to 799,100) for January over December. Between January 2010 and January 2011, we lost 2,00 jobs.
This down and up ambiguity may mean the state is bumping along the bottom of its recession. The Department of Workforce Services hopes for more than bumping. DWS said in yesterday’s new release, “2011 appears set to be the turning point where we start to add jobs again in significant numbers.”
Note the use of “appears.” Also note “significant” new jobs. We’ll see. DWS’ optimism has been misplaced the past couple of years.
For employment, what a long strange trip it’s been. The peak for seasonally adjusted wage jobs came in February 2008 at 849,600. The December 2010 figure was 796,900.
Metro summaries follow. Over the weekend, I’ll try to look at some of the newly benchmarked data (see previous post for what that is about) and tease some trends. This analysis will be more difficult than need be due to DWS suppressing data. Banking and real estate hide under “financial activities.” Restaurants are buried in leisure and hospitality. Logging is added to mining. Back in the bad old days before computer publication, more was available. Go figure. The change happened under Bill Richardson.
Las Cruces: Until a 2,800-job loss in January, Las Cruces had an 11-month run of new jobs and was the star of the New Mexico metros. The job losses were seasonal, explained in part by the end of the fall semester and 2,200 fewer jobs in state government, mostly meaning New Mexico State University.
Santa Fe dropped 1,500 jobs during January. Yje declines spread across the metro economy. Still, the City Different managed a 400-job increase between January 2010 and January 2011.
Farmington’s 1,100-job loss in January left the year-over-year increase at 100 jobs.
Albuquerque continues to take the brunt of New Mexico’s recession. Year-over-year, the four-county metro lost 2,300 jobs. That’s two-thirds of the state’s loss occurring in an area with well under half the population.

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