LAS CRUCES – New Mexico’s unemployment has fallen faster than the national average over the past year.
New Mexico’s unemployment rate in July was half what it was a year before: 4.5 percent compared to 7 percent, having declined gradually month by month, per figures from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
While that remains higher than the national rate of 3.5 percent, New Mexico unemployment has decreased more quickly, the national rate having fallen by just 36 percent it was at 5.7 percent in July 2021.
The gain of 31,700 non-farm jobs over the year was almost entirely in the private sector, with leisure and hospitality seeing a 10.9 percent increase in hires, while mining and construction jobs were up 11.8 percent.
“Leisure and hospitality” encompasses jobs related to lodging, events, attractions such as amusement parks and other tourism-related services. All four of New Mexico’s major statistical areas — Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Farmington — saw gains in that sector. The largest increase was in the Las Cruces area with an 11 percent annual increase with 900 additional jobs.
gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office says the sector recently exceeded pre-pandemic levels of employment by hundreds of jobs while outpacing national growth in leisure and hospitality. It represents a comeback for economic sectors hit hard by COVID-19-related closures and capacity limits in 2020 and 2021.
While restaurants continue to report difficulties hiring and maintaining enough staff to continue normal operations, an analysis by the National Restaurant Association reported 76,600 jobs in eating and drinking establishments in New Mexico — a 2.9 increase from July 2019 to July 2022.
Hospitality and leisure was given priority in a state grant program for small businesses using $100 million in federal CARES Act dollars.
A Workforce Solutions analysis of online job postings indicated that despite those gains, job postings for restaurants and other eateries ranked only seventh in the top 10 industries advertising for workers. Hospitals still led the pack seeking workers.
Likewise, among individual occupations with online job postings, the leader remained registered nurses by an astronomical margin: 11,452 listings in July plus 1,345 for licensed practical and licensed vocation nurses. No other occupation came close.
Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.