New Mexico’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in March, to 6.2 percent, putting it among the 21 states that saw declines last month, according to a labor report released Friday.
The state’s unemployment rate the month before was 6.4 percent, a level at which it had been hovering for several months. The rate had climbed to as high as 6.8 percent last September.
The national unemployment rate in March was 5 percent.
New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted rate was tied at fourth-highest in the nation, along with Alabama’s. The state with the highest unemployment last month was Alaska at 6.6 percent.
Meanwhile, employment growth saw an uptick of 0.4 percent, or 3,000 jobs, compared to the same month last year, the largest gain since September, according to the state Department of Workforce Solutions. Growth started slowing in late 2014, mostly due to losses in the oil and gas industry. The slight boost in March was partly due to a a reduction in those losses, based on a year-earlier comparison, the department said.
The biggest job increase was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which saw an increase of 5.3 percent. In the category of education and health services, New Mexico’s largest private industry sector, the number of jobs increased 5.1 percent.
Nationwide, employers added more jobs in three-quarters of U.S. states in March, led by big gains in Maryland, Ohio and New Jersey.