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Best month for job creation in ABQ metro since ’07

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Job seekers check out opportunities at a recent job fair at Journal Center. The Albuquerque metro area in March posted its best job numbers since 2007. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque area had more year-over-year job growth in March than it has seen since May 2007, according to state figures.

The growth amounted to 1.6 percent, or 5,900 jobs, compared to March 2015, the Department of Workforce Solutions reported.

“The big picture is that Albuquerque is sustaining a reasonable, even relatively strong, rate of growth” said Jeff Mitchell, director of the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research. “This past month was one of the strongest months we’ve seen.”

A large part of that growth was in private-sector jobs — an increase of 4,800 jobs, or 1.6 percent — bringing good news to a state trying to reduce its reliance on government employment.

But one major reason for March’s good news was that the government sector also grew, by 1.3 percent, and that helped to halt a trend in which loss of government jobs was “eating up” any gains among private businesses, Mitchell said. The growth was in state government, while local government employment was down 0.2 percent, the state report said.

Meanwhile, the state continues to fare poorly. New Mexico’s rate of job growth, comparing March 2016 with March 2015, was 0.4 percent. It was ranked No. 44 in the nation.

Another big factor in Albuquerque’s favor was the boost in education and health services jobs. With an increase of 4.4 percent, in March, that sector has seen continual growth since July 2014.

Leisure and hospitality jobs grew by 3.5  percent, after seeing no gains between last October and February.  Retail trade employment rose slightly at 0.5 percent. That sector “has seen some large fluctuations in growth of late, though the industry avoided losses throughout 2015 and has avoided losses in 2016 up to this point.”

However, Mitchell cautioned that numbers in the report are “not the final word. These numbers are usually substantially revised.”

The state report said overall job growth in Albuquerque has shown “increased volatility in the last six months after remaining between 1,700  jobs and 4,500  jobs per month over the previous year and a half.” The figures represent total nonfarm employment that have not been seasonally adjusted in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance, and Valencia counties.

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