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NM has 31st straight month of over-year job gains

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Private-sector hiring pushed job growth in New Mexico to a rate of 1.6 percent in March, notching the state’s 31st consecutive month of year-over-year employment gains, the state Department of Workforce Solutions reported Tuesday.

The state’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in March, up from 6 percent in February but down from 6.8 percent in March 2014. The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in March.

Three of the 13 employment sectors tracked by the state — education and health services, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality — combined to add 11,300 of the total 13,000 jobs added since March 2014.

“Employment growth has trended upward since October 2013, mainly due to gains in key private services-providing industries,” the state jobs report says. “This month’s gain was somewhat lower than that of last month, which represented the highest rate of growth since December 2006.”

The education and health services sector, which is dominated by health care jobs, rode out the recession and its jobless recovery with consistent employment gains. The year-over-year growth as of March was 3.5 percent.

At a 3.8 percent job growth rate, the business and professional services sector registered a “post-recessionary peak in over-the-year growth, which trended upward dramatically over the last five months from neutral growth in October 2014,” the report says.

The leisure and hospitality sector, which is primarily hotel, motel and restaurant jobs, posted a 3.6 percent gain in employment in March, the second largest year-over-year increase in the post-recession era.

Seven private employment sectors also registered year-over-year job growth, including:

— Manufacturing, which posted its second month of growth, adding 500 jobs or 1.8 percent in March, after 27 consecutive months of losses.

— Transportation, warehousing and utilities, adding 600 jobs or 2.6 percent.

— Mining sector, which includes jobs in the oil patch, by 700 jobs or 2.6 percent. However, beset by the worldwide drop in petroleum prices, the rate of job growth in the mining sector is shrinking with each passing month.

Employment sectors losing jobs year-over-year in March were financial activities at 500 jobs, or1.5 percent; government at 600 jobs, or  0.3 percent and construction at 100 jobs, or 0.2 percent.