July unemployment figures offer good news for New Mexico, Farmington area

State is still at bottom of national rankings, but is closing gap

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The unemployment rate continued its long, steady decline across New Mexico in July, falling to 4.5% in July from 4.9% a month earlier.

Joblessness in the state has been headed down for nearly a year and a half now, with the unemployment rate in New Mexico tumbling almost every month since then, according to figures released Aug. 19 by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. A year ago, in July 2021, 7% of the state's workforce was still idle.

That improvement helped the state inch closer to the national jobless rate, which stood at 3.5% in July, down from 3.6% in June. New Mexico was tied with Alaska for the highest jobless rate among all 50 states in July, but it did gain ground on several other states and is now close to catching up with New York, Nevada, Illinois and Delaware, each of which posted an unemployment rate of 4.4% last month.

New Mexico is one of 10 states where joblessness remains at 4% or higher, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the other end of the spectrum lies Minnesota, where the unemployment rate for July was 1.8% to lead the nation. But the decline in the U.S. unemployment rate has slowed considerably over the last five months, allowing New Mexico to draw much closer to the national average.

The reduction in joblessness was mirrored in each of New Mexico's four metropolitan statistical areas. After each of those MSAs saw a significant increase in unemployment a month earlier because of large numbers of job seekers returning to the labor market, their jobless rates fell in July.

The Farmington MSA saw the largest decline, tumbling from 6.1% to 5.7%, while the Las Cruces area was next, going from 5.3% in June to 5% in July. The Albuquerque MSA posted a reduction from 4.6% to 4.4%, and the Santa Fe area went from 4.2% to 4.1%.

After registering the ninth-highest jobless rate in the state in June, San Juan County fell to a tie for 11th on that list in July at 5.7%, the same as San Miguel County. Despite seeing a significant improvement from its June rate of 11.5%, Luna County continued to have the highest unemployment rate in the state at 10.1%. It was followed by McKinley and Torrance counties at 6.4%, Taos County at 6.3%, Cibola County at 6.2%, Lea and Sierra counties at 6%, Catron and Mora counties at 5.9% and Guadalupe County at 5.8%.

As usual, Los Alamos County posted the lowest jobless rate in New Mexico at 2.5%, followed by Union County at 3.1%, Harding County at 3.2% and De Baca County at 3.4%.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.