Sandia National Laboratories grows workforce, output during pandemic - Albuquerque Journal

Sandia National Laboratories grows workforce, output during pandemic

A recent economic impact analysis showed the lab increased its total outlay in the 2020 fiscal year by 86.8 million, which boosted the labs total spending in the fiscal year to 3.76 billion. That includes 1.3 billion in payroll to its 12,700 Albuquerque-based employees. COURTESY SANDIA NATIONAL LABS.

Already one of New Mexico’s largest employers, Sandia National Laboratories has upped the size of its workforce by nearly 20% in the last five years. And it hired more than 1,000 people during a year upended by the global pandemic.

The national lab in Albuquerque now has about 12,700 employees. That’s up about 2,000 people from the roughly 10,700 employees the labs had in 2016, according to a recent economic impact analysis created by the labs.

Scott Aeilts

The analysis, performed every year, showcases Sandia’s effect on the local economy. Sandia enters into hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts with local businesses, much of its workforce are graduates of New Mexico universities and the total size of Sandia’s workforce and payroll has a massive footprint.

Sandia’s New Mexico employees collected about $1.3 billion in payroll in the labs’ 2020 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

During the most recent fiscal year, Sandia hired nearly 1,200 employees, which included 460 new jobs.

“That was no small feat given the dynamics that we all saw during the pandemic,” Scott Aeilts, Sandia’s associate labs director of Mission Services, said of the new hires. “How do we interview people? How do we bring them out? How do we make sure they’re qualified?”

Daniel Richardson, left, a mechanical engineer in Sandia National Laboratories diagnostic sciences, and Yibin Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow, observe a laser that records measurements in the hypersonic wind tunnel. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

Of the 460 new positions at Sandia, 375 work in Albuquerque. Of those hired for the new positions, about a third of them graduated from a New Mexico university.

“In general, when we look at the New Mexico employee base, we’re roughly at 50 to 60% of employees who come from (New Mexico universities),” Aeilts said. “It’s a significant portion. It’s extremely important for us to partner with the state’s universities so those employees can come to us better prepared.”

Sandia’s total outlay in the 2020 fiscal year was $3.76 billion, an $86.8 million increase from the year before.

That included $1.4 billion in purchases of goods and services. Some $482.6 million of that went to New Mexico businesses.

Of those purchases from New Mexico businesses, $349.7 million went to small businesses, based on criteria from the Small Business Administration. Sandia purchases from small businesses in the state have increased by about $110 million since 2016, according to the economic analysis.

Much of that business is for construction and information technology services, according to Paul Sedillo, Sandia’s small-business program manager.

Most Sandia contracts go out for a bidding process, and New Mexico small businesses get a 5% pricing preference.

Paul Sedillo

“I do believe our procurement spend in New Mexico, of nearly half a billion dollars, showcases Sandia’s long-lasting commitment to this economy,” Sedillo said.

Hacienda Home Centers, a New Mexico small business with offices in Albuquerque and stores in Española and Las Vegas, was one of those business that was hired for work at Sandia during the last fiscal year. The company provided maintenance and repair products and building materials for Sandia.

“It’s been tough lately for small businesses,” said Joe Sanchez, vice president of Hacienda Home Center. “The contract with Sandia has really helped us to continue to grow. It gives us confidence to expand.”

by the numbers

2 Sandia-hosted small business forums attended by suppliers

3 Small businesses selected for Sandia’s Mentor-Protégé program

70 Percentage of Sandia suppliers that are small businesses

118 One-on-one interactions with current and potential suppliers at the Lobo Rainforest building in Albuquerque


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