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NM among US leaders for construction jobs

GREG SORBER/JOURNAL
Oil field roustabouts work on a oil rig south of Artesia on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

SANTA FE, N.M. — The construction industry is booming in New Mexico and economic development officials in the southeast corner of the state are expecting even more from the industry in 2020.

The Associated General Contractors of America reports the state was ranked No. 2 in the nation in October and November for construction job growth. Both months marked more than 11% year-over-year gains. The only other state with better numbers was Nevada at over 13%.

New Mexico moved up to 52,300 construction workers, adding 5,300 jobs since November 2018. That’s still short of the all-time high of 59,600 in June 2006, according to contractors association.

A dominant share of New Mexico’s increased construction is in Eddy and Lea counties, which are located in the middle of an oil boom that has taken hold across Permian Basin.

The shortage of qualified construction workers across the country — and in Southeast New Mexico — is the only thing holding the Carlsbad and Hobbs areas from even more construction, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

“If we could build 2,000 apartments overnight, we could fill them immediately,” said Missi Currier, CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Lea County. “In residential, we are far behind where we need to be.”

Carlsbad had four hotels under construction and another half-dozen in the works. Hobbs plans to break ground on a 32-bed Covenant Health hospital and a career technical education high school in 2020.

Even with all the residential, school and hospital construction happening, a large share of work is related to the building of new infrastructure and drilling pads for the oil industry.

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