Jobless rate continues to fall across New Mexico, in Farmington MSA

Despite gains, state registers fifth-highest unemployment rate in United States

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The unemployment rate across New Mexico and in the Farmington Metropolitan Statistical Area declined significantly again in October, continuing a trend that has unfolded throughout the second half of the year.

The state's jobless rate of 6.5% for October was down from the 6.9% rate from September, though New Mexico still hasn't caught up to the national unemployment rate of 4.6%, according to a Nov. 19 news release from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. The jobless rate in New Mexico a year ago was 8.5%, and the statewide rate was 7.6% as recently as July, before it began declining notably each month.

The unemployment rate for New Mexico has declined or remained steady for nine straight months. But the state still has the fifth-highest jobless rate in the country, just as it did last month, with only New York, New Jersey, California and Nevada faring worse, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it still has considerable ground to make up to match its performance before the COVID-19 pandemic began, as the state's jobless rate for February 2020 was 4.8%.

A look at earlier rates:Farmington MSA sees second big drop in a row in unemployment rate

The news was even better for the Farmington MSA, which has posted the highest jobless rate among the state's four MSAs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Farmington area had an unemployment rate of 6.2% for October, down from 6.9% in September and well below the 9.5% rate of October 2020. It also marked the first time the rate for the Farmington MSA was less than the statewide average since the pandemic began.

Joblessness in the Farmington area is still much higher than it is in the Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces MSAs. The Santa Fe area led the way with an unemployment rate of 5%, while Albuquerque was second at 5.1% and Las Cruces was third at 5.2%.

The downward direction of New Mexico's unemployment rate is reflected in the rate for most of its counties. Luna County in southwestern New Mexico once again had the highest jobless rate in the state in October at 10.6%, but that was down from the September rate of 11.3% and represented a sharp reduction from its peak rate of 18% in April.

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Lea County and McKinley County tied for the second-highest jobless rate in the state at 7%, while Taos County was fourth at 6.7%. Cibola County was fifth at 6.5%, while San Juan County tied with Torrance County for sixth place at 6.2%.

As usual, Los Alamos County had the lowest unemployment rate in New Mexico at 2.3%, down from 2.5% last month. Union County was second at 3.3%, Curry County was third at 3.6% and Hidalgo County was fourth at 3.8%. No other county in the state had a jobless rate of less than 4% in October.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.