The unemployment rate in Rio Rancho rose slightly to 6.4 percent in December, from 6.3 percent in November, according to figures the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Wednesday.
The number of employed individuals remained relatively constant, but about 40 local residents joined the ranks of the unemployed.
The number of unemployed local residents — which BLS counts as jobless, looking for jobs and available for work — reached 3,177 in July and then fell to 2,509 in November. The number increased in December to 2,551.
It is too soon to determine why the number of unemployed residents recently decreased by more than 20 percent. Some found jobs and others stopped looking for work or moved away. The U.S. Census Bureau will release an estimate of the city’s 2013 population in May.
The number of Rio Ranchoans with jobs peaked in April at 37,739 — the highest figure in the last decade. By August, the number was down 1,069 to 36,856. Since then, the number of employed has gone up 374 to 37,044 in December.
Intel Corp. announced in September it would redeploy 400 workers. Last month, it was reported Hewlett-Packard was 550 workers below its 2013 employment target with the city.
The number of jobs in the city has not kept up with growth in the population. In 2006, 72 percent of all Rio Ranchoans between the ages of 16 and 64 were employed. In 2012 and 2013, only 63 to 64 percent of the local working-age population had a job.