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NM unemployment rate up, jobs down in February

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico bucked a generally improving national jobs trend by posting a slight increase in unemployment in the 12 months ending in February.

State unemployment was 6.7 percent last month and 6.6 percent in February 2013. New Mexico lost 1,900 jobs in the period, a 0.2 percent year-over-year decline, the Department of Workforce Solutions reported Friday.

The Albuquerque area’s unemployment rate was unchanged from a year ago at 7.5 percent.

The biggest state-level employment declines came in the government sector, which shed 2,300 jobs in the 12-month period.

The federal Labor Department said unemployment rates dropped in 29 states, rose in 10 and were unchanged in the remaining 11. Hiring rose in 33 states and fell in 17.

The national unemployment rate was also 6.7 percent in February, down from 6.9 percent a year ago.

Employers added 175,000 jobs nationwide in February, close to the average monthly gains of the past two years. They added only 129,000 jobs in January and just 84,000 in December.

In New Mexico, the largest employment gains were reported in the financial activities industry, which has added 1,800 jobs since February 2013. That sector has been growing for 22 consecutive months, according to Workforce Solutions.

Growth continued in the construction industry, but at a slower rate than was seen last spring. New Mexico added 200 construction jobs in the year since February 2013, but the sector added 1,800 jobs in the 12 months ending April 2013.

Hiring improved year over year in the mining sector, which includes oil and natural gas production. That sector added 1,400 jobs.

Employment improved in the retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services sectors.

Manufacturing declined 2,000 jobs, professional and business services lost 1,900, and the information sector shrunk by 900.