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NM loses jobs; Unemployment climbs to 6.7 percent

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico lost 4,200 jobs last month while its unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.7 percent, according to U.S. Labor Department figures released Friday.

New Mexico’s job decline was 0.5 percent between August and September, one of three states considered to have seen a significant drop between August and September, the department said. The other states were Wisconsin and Alabama.

Year over year, New Mexico lost 2,000 jobs, or 0.2 percent, according to separate figures released by the state Department of Workforce Solutions.

The agency pays more attention to year-over-year figures because doing so evens out short-term fluctuations, spokeswoman Joy Forehand said.

Over the last four years, the state has seen year-over-year job losses three times: October 2015 and January and September of this year, Forehand said.

“It’s important to note that we’re still feeling the effects of the oil and gas crash,” Forehand said. “I think we’re expecting that for the next few months.”

Goods-producing industries, which includes oil and gas, plunged 8.1 percent, or 7,800 jobs over the year.

But Forehand noted that employment in the professional and business services category was up 2,600 jobs, or 2.6 percent. That was the sector’s largest numeric growth since August 2007, apart from a gain of 3,900 jobs in June 2016, according to a department news release.

Education and health services, the largest private industry sector, was up 6,100 jobs, or 4.6 percent.

Of the 13 industries measured in the state’s economy, six added jobs, six lost jobs and one was unchanged from September 2015.

As for unemployment, New Mexico’s rate in September increased by 0.1 percentage points from 6.6 percent the month before, leaving New Mexico with the second-highest rate in the nation. No. 1 is Alaska.

The national unemployment rate was 5 percent last month.