New Mexico’s unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percent to 6.6 percent in August, the second worst in the nation, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Labor Department.
The one state with a higher rate than New Mexico’s last month was Alaska at 6.8 percent. At last count, New Mexico had the third-highest jobless rate.
In July, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent. In August 2015, it was 6.5 percent.
The national unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent last month. In August of last year, it was 5.1 percent.
In addition to New Mexico, five other states saw unemployment rate increases from the month before. Three states saw notable decreases, and the remaining saw no significant change.
The unemployment rate in 20 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 show the state gained 1,600 jobs between July and August 2016. It added 1,800 jobs over the past year, representing a 0.2 percent increase.
The job gains were driven by growth in the education and health services sector, which was up 9,900 jobs or 7.6 percent over the year. According to the department, in the past three months, the growth in this sector has been the highest ever recorded.
In other sectors:
— Government employment grew by only 100 jobs over the year or 0.1 percent, reflecting an overall decline in local government jobs with a slight increase in state and federal government jobs.
— The leisure and hospitality industry also saw job gains of 2,500 jobs, and professional and business services was up by 1,500 jobs over the year.
— Much of the state’s job losses over the year were seen in the mining sector, which includes the oil and gas industries. That sector declined by 6,800 jobs, or 27 percent.