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Northern N.M. projected to lead state in job growth rate for rest of decade, state agency says

Farmington ranks third among state's four MSAs in projected job growth rate

FARMINGTON —The employment growth rate in northern New Mexico is projected to outpace growth in every other area of the state for the rest of this decade, according to an analysis released last week by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

The department’s monthly Labor Market Review released on Jan. 6 features an analysis of employment trends by staff economist Nathan Friedman. Friedman projects that overall employment will grow by 13% in northern New Mexico between 2020 and 2030, exceeding the growth rate of the eastern (11.6%), central (11.3%) and southwestern (10.9%) regions, as well as that for New Mexico as a whole (11.6%).

Overall employment in the northern region is projected to grow from the 2020 figure of 182,530 to 206,330 — an increase of nearly 24,000 workers. The central region, which includes Albuquerque, will see an increase of more than 43,000 workers, the largest in the state, but its job growth rate will be smaller because of its larger population. Across New Mexico, the number of jobs is expected to increase by nearly 96,000 over the 10-year period.

The analysis also breaks down job growth in the state’s four metropolitan statistical areas. The Farmington MSA ranks third with a projected growth rate of 11.2%, trailing Santa Fe (14.4%) and Albuquerque (11.3%) while leading Las Cruces (10.2%). In terms of the number of jobs added, Albuquerque is projected to lead the pack at more than 43,000, while Santa Fe is second at nearly 8,200. Las Cruces is third at a little less than 7,600 and Farmington is fourth at almost 5,000 jobs.

As for the sectors in which those jobs will be found, the analysis shows that in the Farmington MSA, the fastest growth is projected to occur in the arts, recreation and entertainment field, which is expected to show growth of 103.9%, followed by accommodation and food services (27.3%), and information (18.7%).

In terms of job numbers, health care and social assistance ranks first in the Farmington MSA at 1,230 additional jobs, followed by accommodation and food services (1,040) and mining, and oil and gas extraction (550).

The state’s other three MSAs also showed strong growth in the arts, recreation and entertainment sector, with job growth in that field ranking first for each of them. The Santa Fe MSA leads the state at 128.5%, while Albuquerque was second at 118.5% and Las Cruces was third at 110.3%.

On a statewide basis, job growth in several subsectors is projected to be robust. Museums and historical sites across the state will see a job growth rate of 236.3%, followed by performing arts and spectator sports (148.6%), amusement, gambling and recreation (103.1%) and motion picture and sound recording (102.1%).

The most jobs are projected to be generated in the food services and drinking places subsector at 13,380, followed by accommodation (10,180), ambulatory health care services (8,620) and professional science and technical services (7,200). The motion picture and sound recording subsector is projected to add 1,890 jobs, while museums and historical sites are forecast to add 1,540. Performing arts and spectator sports are projected for an increase of 1,410 jobs.

The Labor Market Review also takes an in-depth look at the state’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations, finding that 6.9% of all of New Mexico’s jobs existed in that field in 2021, the most recent year for which the data were available. That figure slightly exceeds the national average of 6.6%.

Most of the leading states are located on the West Coast and the Northeast, and in the Middle Atlantic. New Mexico ranks fourth out of the eight-state Southwest region, which is paced by Colorado at 9.2%, while Nevada is last at 3.9%. New Mexico fares better when compared to states west of the Mississippi River, ranking fifth among those 24 states.

According to the data, the average wage for all STEM occupations in New Mexico was $97,390 — twice that of nonSTEM occupations. Employment in the STEM field in the state is projected to grow by 10.5% by 2030, a figure that is lower than the projected growth rate of nonSTEM jobs at 11.7%.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: