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NM unemployment rate declines slightly in January

New Mexico’s unemployment rate declined slightly in January to 6.5 percent, improving the state’s ranking from highest unemployment rate in the nation to third-highest, according to figures released Monday.

Still, that figure continued to be well above the national unemployment rate of 4.9 percent. The adjusted rate for December in New Mexico was 6.6 percent, according to the Department of Workforce Solutions.

New Mexico tied with the District of Columbia for the third-highest ranking. Worse were Mississippi at 6.7 percent and Alaska at 6.6 percent.

Also, New Mexico saw the number of jobs fall slightly in January compared to the same month a year before. About 1,800 jobs were lost, or about 0.2 percent during that period.

“The decline in global oil prices continues to take its toll on mining and industries that serve the mining industry,” a department news release said.

Slumping oil prices for more than a year have meant thousands of layoffs in the southeast and northwest parts of the state.

New Mexico’s goods-producing industries lost 8,100 jobs from January 2015 to January 2016, with the mining sector losing 7,700 jobs. The mining sector includes oil and gas jobs.

Employment in service industries increased by 6,300 jobs, while the education and health services industry had the biggest gain at 7,300 additional jobs.

Meanwhile, the value of goods and services produced in New Mexico rose slightly at 0.5 percent from the second quarter of 2015 to the third quarter, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That measure, called real gross domestic product, was at 1.9 percent overall in the U.S. compared to 3.8 percent the quarter before.

New Mexico fared better than several nearby states, including Texas and Oklahoma, both of which saw an increase of 0.1 percent.