Unemployment in New Mexico, Farmington MSA falls again in May

National rate declines to 5.8%, down from 13.3% a year ago

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The state's unemployment rate for May was 8%, which represented only a slight decline from the rate of 8.1% it posted in April.
  • The rate has declined or remained steady for four months since hitting 8.7% in January.
  • The jobless rate in the Farmington Metropolitan Statistical Area was 8.6% for May, down from 8.9% in April.

FARMINGTON — The unemployment rate across New Mexico and in the Farmington area continued to inch downward in May, but both remain stubbornly high compared to the national jobless rate.

The state's unemployment rate for May was 8%, which represented only a slight decline from the rate of 8.1% it posted in April, according to the monthly report issued by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

But the rate has declined or remained steady for four months since hitting 8.7% in January, which was the last time it increased. It was also well below the 10% rate in New Mexico in May 2020 early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The jobless rate in the Farmington Metropolitan Statistical Area was 8.6% for May, down from 8.9% in April and significantly better than the 11.6% rate from May 2020. The unemployment rate has declined for four straight months in Farmington since it hit 11% in January.

The Farmington MSA continues to have the highest jobless rate among the state's four largest population centers, as it has throughout the pandemic. The Albuquerque and Santa Fe MSAs had the lowest rates in the state at 7%, while Las Cruces was third at 7.3%.

The national unemployment rate for May was 5.8%, a drop from the 6.1% rate from April and less than half of the 13.3% rate from May 2020.

Elsewhere in New Mexico:

•  Luna County in the state's southwest corner once again posted the highest jobless rate in the state at 16%, although that figure was lower than the 18% rate it registered in April.

• Lea County in the southeast corner came in at 10.3% for May, down from 10.8% in April.

• Taos County registered an unemployment rate of 10% for May, a decline from the April rate of 10.5%.

Those are the only three counties in the state that are still showing double-digit unemployment.

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McKinley County had the fourth-highest jobless rate in New Mexico at 9.6%, while Cibola County was fifth at 9.3%.

San Juan County's rate of 8.6% landed it in a tie for seventh place on that list, a relative improvement from April, when it was sixth.

Unemployment was lowest in Los Alamos County at 3% and in Harding County at 3.9%. Joblessness in Union County was 4.4%. Those three counties are the only ones in New Mexico with an unemployment rate of less than 5%.

The state added nearly 40,000 nonagricultural jobs between May 2020 and May 2021, according to the report. All those gains were reported in the private sector, where employment increased by 7.4%. Employment in the public sector fell by 1.7%.

The big winner in the private sector was the leisure and hospitality sector, a good sign for New Mexico's beleaguered tourism industry. That sector reported a net gain of 24,200 jobs, or 38.2% year-over-year growth.

The retail trade sector also reported double-digit year-over-year growth at 10.4%, or 8,200 additional jobs.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com.

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