NM employment picks up in January

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The job picture in New Mexico brightened in January, with nine of 14 employment sectors contributing to a year-over-year gain of 10,200 jobs around the state, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Department of Workforce Solutions.

The additional jobs translate to 1.3 percent job growth from January 2014 to January this year, with roughly two out of every five new jobs created in the robust private education and health services employment sector.

New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in January, up from 5.6 percent in December and down from 7.1 percent in January 2014, the report says. The unemployment rate nationwide was 6.1 percent in January, up from 5.4 percent in December but down from 7 percent in January 2014.

The jobs report for January reflects a process known as benchmarking, where the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reconciles its basic survey-based employment data with other sources of information. In New Mexico, the process resulted in revisions that improved employment numbers.

“Following the benchmark, total nonfarm employment showed continuous growth from September 2012, with over-the-year growth ranging between 8,000 and 12,000 jobs for every month since July 2014,” the report says.

One employment sector that benefited from benchmarking was business and professional services, which includes employees and contractors at Sandia National Laboratories and is widely viewed as a bellwether of the local economy. The revisions show job growth in five of the last six months of 2014. As of January, the year-over-year gain was 1,700 jobs or 1.7 percent.

The mining employment sector, which includes energy-related jobs, added 1,400 jobs from January to January for 5.2 percent job growth. The effect of falling petroleum prices, however, may have contributed to a small decrease from December to January, the sector’s first month-over-month decrease since April and May 2009.

Other employment sectors showing annual improvement were financial activities; information; retail trade; transportation, warehousing and utilities; wholesale trade; and the miscellaneous other services.

On the downside, leisure and hospitality posted its first year-over-year job loss since September 2010. Benchmarking pumped up employment numbers in construction and manufacturing, although both sectors lost jobs from January to January.

Total government employment dropped by 1,200 jobs, or 0.6 percent, with losses registered at the local, state and federal levels.

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