Unemployment up in New Mexico's cities, but statewide jobless rate remains at 3.5%

Farmington MSA has state's highest rate, jumping from 3.4% to 4.6%

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Despite a bump in joblessness in the state’s four population centers, the unemployment rate across New Mexico remained steady in January, coming in at 3.5% again, the same figure as in December.

That number left the state tied for 27th place in the national rankings, as the jobless rate in New Mexico was just a tick higher than the U.S. rate of 3.4%, which was the lowest rate registered nationally since 1969. The state’s unemployment rate in January 2022 was 5.4%.

North Dakota and South Dakota tied for the lowest rate in the country at 2.1%, while Nevada had the highest rate at 5.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Each of New Mexico’s four metropolitan statistical areas saw a significant increase in unemployment from December to January, led by the Farmington and Las Cruces MSAs. Joblessness in Farmington increased from 3.4% to 4.6%, while the Las Cruces area went from 3.3% to 4.5%.

The rate in the Albuquerque MSA jumped from 2.7% to 3.5%, while Santa Fe went from 2.6% to 3.3%.

There was a bit of good news hidden in those numbers for the Farmington MSA. The size of its labor force in January was slightly more than 49,000 people, a number almost identical to the January 2022 figure. That was perhaps a sign that the long outmigration of workers from the Farmington area or the number of discouraged workers who have stopped looking for a job has stabilized locally. The Farmington MSA also had nearly 1,000 more employed people last month than it had in January 2022.

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Overall, the size of New Mexico’s labor force shrank by approximately 4,500 people from January 2022 to January 2023. But the state had nearly 14,000 more people working in January 2023 than it did a year earlier.

On a county-by-county basis, Luna County again had the highest jobless rate in the state at 12.1%, up from 10.3% in December. Sierra County was next at 6.4%, followed by Catron and Cibola (5.4%), McKinley and Torrance (5.2%), Mora (5%), San Miguel (4.9%) and Guadalupe (4.7%) counties. San Juan County had the 10th-highest rate in the state at 4.6%.

As usual, Los Alamos County had the lowest jobless rate in the state at 2%, followed by Eddy County at 2.7%, Union County at 2.8%, and Curry and Hidalgo counties at 2.9%.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 Support local journalism with a digital subscription: