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NM unemployment rate still second-worst in nation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 6.7 percent for the third month in a row and is still the second-highest in the nation, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Labor Department.

Only Alaska has a higher jobless rate at 6.8 percent. November marks the fourth month that New Mexico has had the second-highest rate next to Alaska.

A year ago, New Mexico’s jobless rate was slightly higher at 6.6 percent.

In addition to New Mexico, 31 other states and the District of Columbia saw stable unemployment rates compared to the month before. Eighteen states saw notable decreases, and none experienced significant increases.

The unemployment rate in 16 states is now significantly below the national rate of 4.6 percent.

Figures from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions show the state lost 2,300 jobs, or 0.3 percent, between November 2015 and November 2016.

Much of those job losses came from the mining sector, which includes oil and gas operations, which fell by 5,100 jobs or 22.0 percent over the year. That’s an improvement from last month’s loss of 6,600 jobs and February 2016’s 7,600 lost jobs.

Retail trade also saw significant job losses over the year, a decline of 5,500 jobs or 5.6 percent.

“The industry has yet to exhibit the boost in jobs typically reported around the holiday period, though the magnitude of the over-the-year loss is exacerbated by the particularly healthy upward trend in 2015,” said Workforce Solutions deputy secretary Joy Forehand in a statement.

Other sectors that saw contraction include manufacturing (700 jobs lost, down 2.6 percent), wholesale trade (1,100 jobs lost, down 5.2 percent), information (600 jobs, down 4.6 percent), and financial activities (100 jobs lost, down 0.3 percent).

Government employment was also down over the year, by 1,000 jobs or 0.5 percent.

The state did see some job gains, particularly in education and health services, which is the largest and fastest-growing private industry sector in New Mexico. That area saw 6,000 new jobs, an increase of 4.4 percent. Other sectors that gained jobs include professional and business services (1,800 jobs gained, up 1.8 percent), leisure and hospitality (1,600 jobs gained, up 1.6 percent), construction (700 jobs gained, up 1.6 percent), and miscellaneous other services (600 jobs gained, up 2.1 percent).

Recent employment growth in transportation, warehousing, and utilities has almost compensated for the significant job losses the sector experienced between 2014 and 2016. That industry is now up 1,100 jobs, or 4.7 percent, over the year.