Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nation’s Unemployment Rate Leader Again

The unemployment rate in New Mexico dropped a hair in December (0.01 points) but managed a second month as the nation’s highest with 6.7% unemployment. That rate, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics news release put it, is “significantly different” from the national 5% unemployment rate on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate was 6.8% in November and October.
Of the 26 states with a statistically significant unemployment rate change between December 2014 and December 2015, New Mexico was the only one where the rate increased. Seven other states showed rate increases over the year, but nothing significant. The unemployment rate dropped in 42 states and the District of Columbia, the BLS said.
This is just amazing. Not that we didn’t already know it.
The Department of Workforce Solutions overlooked these two details in its release about the job numbers. No surprise.
Our wage employment did increase during the year, going from 827,400 in December 2014 to 830,000 a year later, a 2,600-job, or 0.3% (three-tenths of one percent). The “improvement” rode a 2,900 job, or 2.2%, increase in education and health services, which means Medicaid.
Behind the New Mexico performance is a 4,500-person seasonally adjusted year-over-year drop in the labor force. The labor force is defined as people working or looking for work. That group of 4,500 gave up.
Meanwhile the number of unemployed grew 6,000 over the year from 55,100 in December 2014 to 61,100 in December 2015, an 11% jump.
The job growth came in leisure and hospitality (tourism + skiing), professional and business services, and education and health care (Medicaid). Carroll Cagle has a nice summary of the number (and it’s a big one) that Medicaid is doing on state finances. See the News and Views Blog at newmexicoprosperity.org.
Employment, which is somewhat different from wage jobs, in Lea County dropped 2,388 during the year from 29,390 to 27,302.

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