Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico added nearly 15,000 public- and private-sector jobs in 2019, according to new numbers from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
The state labor department released its preliminary employment report for December on Friday, which showed that the state added 14,800 jobs over the previous 12 months. The report also said New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 4.7% in December, down from 5.0% 12 months earlier.
Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said New Mexico ranked among the top 10 states in the nation for job growth for six consecutive months in 2019, a sign that the state’s long-running economic problems may be in the rearview mirror.
“More and more people are seeing the wonderful quality of life in New Mexico,” McCamley told the Journal.
The mining and construction sector, which includes New Mexico’s booming oil and gas industry, added 5,500 jobs in 2019, a 7.5% increase over that period. Much of the job growth was concentrated in the construction subsector, which grew by more than 10%.
McCamley credited broad-based economic growth for helping to spur the state’s construction industry.
Additionally, the state’s health care and social assistance subsector added 3,500 jobs in 2019, while the state’s financial sector added 1,400.
McCamley praised the growth of the state’s energy sector but acknowledged that the state needs to diversify beyond the oil and gas industry. He highlighted New Mexico’s tourism and technology industries as important areas for future economic growth.
“We need to continue to focus on those sectors as well, to make sure that all our eggs aren’t in one basket,” he said.
The unemployment rate dropped in each of New Mexico’s metropolitan areas over the past 12 months. Metro Albuquerque’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.5% in December 2018 to 4.2% last month, according to the report.
Despite the declining unemployment rate over the past 12 months, New Mexico still has significantly higher unemployment than the nation overall, which posted a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.5% in December. McCamley stressed the need for New Mexico to continue investing in its workforce to attract employers and help them continue to grow.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said.