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State's jobless rate flat in March, but Farmington area improves


Unemployment rate across NM stuck at 8.3%

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  • The jobless rate for the Farmington MSA fell from 10.1% in February to 9.7% in March.
  • The rates for the state as a whole and the Farmington MSA remained higher than they were a year ago and above the national jobless rate.
  • Every major industry in the state has been rocked by the recession, with leisure and hospitality hit the hardest.

FARMINGTON — While New Mexico's unemployment rate remained steady last month, the jobless rate for the Farmington metropolitan statistical area declined by nearly a half a percentage point.

According to figures released April 16 by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the state's unemployment rate remained at 8.3% in March, the same as it was a month earlier. But the rate for the Farmington MSA fell from 10.1% in February to 9.7% in March.

The rates for the state as a whole and the Farmington MSA remained higher than they were a year ago and above the national jobless rate. In March 2020, New Mexico had a rate of 5.5%, and the Farmington area checked in at 6.9%, nearly 3 percentage points lower than the latest figure.

The U.S. jobless rate declined to 6% in March from the 6.2% figure posted in February. But it remains higher than the 4.4% figure posted in March 2020, a sign that the economy still has a lot of ground to make up from the losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state's other three MSAs showed mixed results. The Santa Fe area also posted a 0.4% decrease in its jobless rate, going from 7.9% in February to 7.5% in March, while the Albuquerque MSA declined from 7.8% last month to 7.5% in March. The two markets are tied for the lowest unemployment rate among New Mexico's four MSAs.

The Las Cruces area did not perform as well. Its jobless rate was flat from month to month, remaining at 8%.

News: Jobless rate falls in February for New Mexico; Farmington MSA still has highest in state

The jobless rate for the Farmington MSA continues to be the only one of the four in New Mexico that exceeds the statewide unemployment rate.

State officials said every major industry in the state has been rocked by the recession, with leisure and hospitality hit the hardest. That sector has seen an erosion of 18,400 jobs, or an 18.9% decline since March 2020.

The mining and construction sector lost 10,400 jobs, or 13.6%, and education and health services lost 4,600 jobs, or 3.2%. Trade, transportation and utilities were down 3,600 jobs, or 2.7%, and the financial activities sector also was 3,600 jobs, which translated to a 10.2% decline.

The professional and business services sector lost 3,000 jobs, or 2.7%, while the information sector shed 2,400 jobs, or 23.1%. Miscellaneous services jobs fell by 2,300 jobs, or 8.2%, and manufacturing lost 1,600 jobs, or 5.7%.

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The public sector has not been immune to the decline. Local government employment is down 13,900 jobs, or 13.2%, and state government employment has been reduced by 1,500 jobs, or 2.7%. A total of 300 jobs were lost at the federal level, or 1%.

The recession continues to take an uneven toll on the state's counties. Luna County in southwestern New Mexico again posted the highest unemployment rate in the state at 18.5%, followed by Lea County in southeast New Mexico at 11.5%. McKinley County was third at 10.7%, while Taos County was fourth at 10.5%.

Cibola County also hit double figures at 10.3%. San Juan County's rate of 9.7% was the sixth-highest figure in the state.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Los Alamos County once again posted the lowest jobless rate in New Mexico at 3.1%, followed by Harding County at 3.6% and Union County at 4.3%. Those were the only three counties in New Mexico with a jobless rate of less than 5%.

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Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.