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NM unemployment rate stagnant for fourth month

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the fourth month in a row, New Mexico’s unemployment rate has remained at 6.2 percent — still among the highest in the nation, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

The data show that the state’s jobless rate in June remained unchanged from the 6.2 percent reported in March, April, and May of this year. In June of 2015, the rate was 6.6 percent.

The national unemployment rate rose from 4.7 percent to 4.9 percent last month. In June of last year, it was 4.9 percent.

New Mexico is tied for the third-highest unemployment rate in the country, along with Illinois and Louisiana, at 6.2 percent. At last count, New Mexico was the fourth-highest.

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Alaska has the highest rate at 6.7 percent, followed by Nevada at 6.4 percent. South Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in June at 2.7 percent.

In addition to New Mexico, 42 other states and the District of Columbia also saw unemployment rates remain stable between May and June, according to the data. Six states had higher rates, and only one — North Carolina — had a notable decrease.

The unemployment rate in 21 states is now significantly below the national rate of 4.9 percent.

As for job growth, figures from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions also show that the state lost 2,400 jobs between May and June 2016, it added 14,000 jobs over the past year, representing an increase of 1.7 percent.

The job gains were primarily driven by growth in the service industry, particularly education and health services, which was up 9,800 jobs or 7.6 percent over the year. Leisure and hospitality saw an increase of 5,300 jobs or 5.6 percent, the industry’s largest over-the-year gain since 1990.

The mining sector, which includes the oil and gas industries, saw major job losses over the year, contracting by 5,900 jobs or 23.3 percent. Employment declined more modestly in the transportation, manufacturing, information and financial activities sectors.

In Bernalillo County, the state’s most populous county, the unemployment rate in June was 6.1 percent. Luna County had the highest jobless rate at 11.5 percent, while Union County had the lowest at 4.1 percent.

“In this month’s unemployment numbers, we’re really seeing the impact of what’s going on in the oil and gas industry,” said Joy Forehand, deputy cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. “But it’s important to look at all the data sets, and the growth of the civillian workforce in particular is looking promising.”

Forehand said the workforce participation rate is at 57.4 percent, the highest it has been since 2015. She also said losses in the goods-producing industries appear to be tapering off, though the trend won’t be clear until the July and August data have been analyzed.


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