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Seasonal layoffs bite into ABQ payrolls

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The number jumps off page 17 in the latest New Mexico Labor Market Review: 10,000 workers disappeared from the payroll in the Albuquerque metro area from December to January.

The staggering one-month reduction in employed workers from 370,200 to 360,200 might be part statistical blip, but can be attributed primarily to seasonal layoffs. At the beginning of every new year, thousands of workers in the metro lose their jobs.

Seasonal layoffs aside, the metro’s job picture showed improvement in the latter half of the 2012 calendar year, losing fewer jobs than originally estimated.

“Employment growth was benchmarked downward over the first seven months of 2012 and upward in the final five,” said Joy Forehand, spokeswoman for the state Department of Workforce Solutions.

“The result was a post-benchmark annual average growth rate of negative 0.2 percent, up slightly from the pre-benchmark rate of (negative) 0.5 percent,” she said in an email.

Benchmarking is the term for an annual revision of employment estimates by the Department of Workforce Solutions and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The benchmarking process plugs newer data into earlier labor-force estimates for 2012.

Under the revised figures, the metro lost 1,400 jobs or minus 0.4 percent from January 2012 to January 2013. Most of the job losses were in goods-producing industries in the private sector.

Manufacturing lost 400 jobs over the 12-month period, while construction was down 1,100 jobs. Construction numbers in Albuquerque include jobs in mining and other extractive industries.

“Construction continued its down trend and has yet to hit its trough after six years of consecutive negative job growth,” the report says.

In a separate but related report, the Associated General Contractors of America said Albuquerque’s year-over-year loss of 1,100 construction jobs ranked the Duke City at 277 out of 339 metros for the health of its construction sector. Nationwide, 145 metros saw year-over-year job gains in construction in January.

Albuquerque’s business and professional services job category, once a driver of the local economy, lost 900 jobs or 1.7 percent of its total employment during the 12 months ending with January. The category, which includes employees at Sandia National Laboratories, has generally been shrinking since October 2008.

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