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N.M. Jobless Rate Lingers at 8.7%

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Unemployment rates at the state level and in New Mexico’s four metro areas remained unchanged between January and February, the state Workforce Solutions Department reported Thursday.

New Mexico lost 7,100 jobs between February 2010 and February 2011 and was one of only six states that lost jobs during the period. The department said that “the jobs recovery is taking longer than we had initially anticipated.” However, part of the disappointing result may be due to data collection problems. Workforce Solutions said it expects revised data available next month to look better.

New Mexico’s unemployment rate for February was 8.7 percent, Albuquerque’s was 9 percent, Las Cruces had a 7.7 percent unemployment rate, Santa Fe’s was 7.2 percent, and Farmington’s was 9.9 percent.

The national unemployment rate slipped to 8.9 percent from 9 percent in January.

Workforce Solutions said New Mexico’s educational and health services industry added 3,100 jobs in the 12 months ending in February, retail trade added 1,700 jobs, mining, which includes oil and gas production, added 1,300 jobs, and leisure and hospitality added 1,300 jobs.

The f inancial services industry, which had lost jobs for three years, added 400 jobs in the year ending in February. Manufacturing added 100 jobs after a 45-month string of job losses.

Professional and business services lost 11,000 jobs in the year. Construction was down 1,700 jobs, and government lost 3,800 jobs.

“Mass layoffs are no longer the problem they once were, but what is still missing is the impetus for new job growth from any one industry or group of industries to lead the way forward,” the department said.

For the 29th consecutive time, Albuquerque lost jobs in the 12-month period. Nonfarm payroll employment was down 2,600 jobs.

The Albuquerque area added 1,100 leisure and hospitality jobs, 800 government jobs, and 500 retail trade jobs.

Professional and business services lost 2,000 jobs, construction was down 1,700 jobs, manufacturing lost 300 jobs and financial businesses lost 600 jobs.

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