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NM unemployment rate second-highest in nation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s unemployment rate of 6.8 percent in October was unchanged from the month before, but that was the second-highest rate in the nation, according to laborĀ  statistics released Friday.

Still, total nonfarm payroll employment in New Mexico grew by 0.3 percent, the 38th consecutive month of over-the-year growth.

Unemployment rates fell in 32 U.S. states last month as employers nationwide added the most jobs of any month this year. Jobless rates rose in just three states in October and were unchanged in 15.

The only state to have a higher rate than New Mexico was West Virginia at 6.9 percent, although that state also showed the largest month-over-month improvement.

New Mexico’s unemployment rate in October 2014 was 6.2 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in October, due to a hiring rebound that added 271,000 jobs. Steady spending by consumers has offset slower growth overseas and encouraged businesses to add more workers.

The unemployment rate tumbled below 4.5 percent in 21 states, including Texas, Colorado, and Virginia. That’s a historically low level that may help push up pay in the coming months.

North Dakota’s unemployment rate of 2.8 percent was the lowest in the nation, followed by Nebraska’s 2.9 percent.

Very low jobless rates are becoming more common. The unemployment rate is 4.4 percent in Ohio, down from 5.2 percent a year ago; 4.4 percent in Indiana, down from 5.8 percent 12 months earlier; and 3.8 percent in Colorado, down from 4.4 percent a year ago.

When unemployment falls to such low levels, companies are typically forced to compete among a dwindling supply of those without jobs in order to hire. Or they have to make better offers to those who already have jobs to entice them to switch. In either case, average wage levels would rise.