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Unemployment rates fall in New Mexico, Farmington MSA in April


Jobless rate falls faster locally than across NM

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  • The state's unemployment rate of 8.2% for April was only a minor improvement over the 8.3% showing for March.
  • But it was better than the 10% rate the state posted in April 2020.
  • New Mexico continues to have a higher jobless rate than the nation as a whole.

FARMINGTON — While New Mexico's unemployment rate declined only slightly in April, the news was better for the Farmington area, where joblessness fell more quickly.

According to figures released May 21 by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the state's unemployment rate of 8.2% for April was only a minor improvement over the 8.3% showing for March. But it was better than the 10% rate the state posted in April 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Mexico continues to have a higher jobless rate than the nation as a whole. The U.S. unemployment rate for April was 6.1%, up slightly from the 6% figure for March.

Previously: New Mexico's jobless rate ties for highest in nine-state region

The 8.9% jobless rate for the Farmington Metropolitan Statistical Area was the highest of the state's four MSAs. But it was an improvement over the revised 9.6% rate the area saw for March and a continued decline from the 10.1% rate from February. The jobless rate reached a recent high in the Farmington area of 13.3% in May 2020.

The Farmington MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate of the state's four MSAs. Albuquerque and Santa Fe were the lowest at 7.2% for April, followed by Las Cruces at 7.7%.

There was other good news for the Farmington MSA as the size of its labor force apparently has started to rebound, an indication that some people who had stopped looking for work are returning to the job hunt. The area had a labor force of 52,185 in December 2019, but that declined to 48,748 by April 2020. By last month, it had rallied to 49,679 and increased again to 49,802 for April.

Statewide, six major industries in New Mexico reported job gains over this time last year, according to the report — leisure and hospitality (40%); trade, transportation and utilities (8.9%); education and health services (4.7%); professional and business services (3.9%); miscellaneous other services (11.2%), and manufacturing (4.7%).

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But the mining and construction sector reported a net loss of jobs at 8.5% for the past year. Local government was down 10.6%, and state government was down 1.3%. There was no change in federal government.

Unemployment continues to vary widely on a county-by-county basis. Luna County has the highest jobless rate in New Mexico at 18%, while Lea County is second at 10.8%, followed by Taos (10.5%), McKinley (10%) and Cibola (9.8%). San Juan County is sixth at 8.9%. But each of those counties except for Taos County reported a decline from March.

Los Alamos County continued to set the pace for the state, posting a jobless rate of 3% for April, a slight improvement from its 3.1% rate in March. Harding County was second at 3.7%. Union County (4.4%) was the only other county in New Mexico that reported an unemployment rate of less than 5%.

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