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NM unemployment up to 6.4 percent

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s unemployment rate rose from 6.2 to 6.4 percent last month and is still among the highest in the nation, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

The increase follows three months of an unchanged jobless rate of 6.2 percent. In July of 2015, the New Mexico’s rate was 6.6 percent.

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged from June at 4.9 percent. In July of last year, it was 5.3 percent.

New Mexico’s 6.4 percent rate is the third-highest in the country. Alaska currently has the highest rate at 6.7 percent, followed by Nevada at 6.5 percent. South Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in July at 2.8 percent.

Seven states including New Mexico saw unemployment rates rise in July, according to the data. Three states had significant decreases, and 40 plus the District of Columbia remained stable.

The unemployment rate in 20 states is now significantly below the national rate of 4.9 percent.

Data from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions show that the state lost 6,800 jobs between June and July 2016. It added 9,600 jobs over the past year, representing an increase of 1.2 percent.

Job gains were once again driven by growth in the service industry, particularly education and health services, which was up 11,700 jobs or 9.1 percent over the year. Leisure and hospitality saw an increase of 2,800 jobs or 2.9 percent.

The biggest job losses over the year were in the mining sector, which includes the oil and gas industries. That sector contracted by 6,600 jobs or 26 percent. Employment declined more modestly in the transportation, manufacturing, retail trade and financial activities sectors.

In Bernalillo County, the state’s most populous county, the unemployment rate in July was 6.2 percent. Luna County had the highest jobless rate at 10.9 percent, while Union County had the lowest at 4.5 percent.