State's jobless rate declines again in November, but news not as good for cities

Unemployment rate virtually flat in N.M.'s four metropolitan statistical areas

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • New Mexico's unemployment rate for November was 6.2%, down from the revised rate of 6.5% in October.
  • That was the 10th straight month that the state's jobless rate has declined or remained steady.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate for November was 4.2%, down from 4.6% in October.

FARMINGTON — There was good news for the state as a whole in the new unemployment figures that were released last week by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, but the situation was not as positive for the state's population centers.

New Mexico's unemployment rate for November was 6.2%, down from the revised rate of 6.5% in October. That was the 10th straight month that the state's jobless rate has declined or remained steady. The rate in New Mexico was 8.5% in November 2020.

But the state's jobless rate continues to run higher than the national rate. The U.S. unemployment rate for November was 4.2%, down from 4.6% in October. New Mexico continues to register the fifth-highest jobless rate in the country, faring better than only New Jersey, New York, Nevada and California.

Nebraska has the lowest jobless rate in the U.S. at 1.8%, while Utah is second at 2.1%, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Oklahoma is third at 2.5%.

Among New Mexico's four metropolitan statistical areas, the Farmington MSA once again had the highest unemployment rate at 6.3% in November, which was the same figure it registered in October. The Albuquerque MSA had a jobless rate of 4.9% in November, down from 5% in October. The Santa Fe area also registered a slight decline, going from 5% in October to 4.9% in November, but joblessness increased slightly in the Las Cruces MSA, rising to 5.3% in November from the previous month's figure of 5.2%.

Unemployment

The unemployment rate in the Farmington MSA has been the highest of the state's four MSAs since before the pandemic began. The jobless rate here dipped below the statewide average in October for the first time since before the pandemic began. But Farmington's failure to keep pace with the rest of the state in November means its jobless rate once again is higher than the statewide figure, albeit only marginally.

Farmington's unemployment rate of 6.3% is considerably better than the 10.1% rate it was showing in November 2020. The area has seen the largest reduction in unemployment over the last 12 months of any of the state's four MSAs.

San Juan County's unemployment rate of 6.3% is the seventh-highest rate in the state. Luna County continues to lead the way at 12.7%, while McKinley County is next at 7.1%. Lea County is third at 7%, and Taos County is fourth at 6.7%. Torrance County is fifth at 6.6%, while Cibola County is sixth at 6.3%.

The increase in Luna County was a departure from the recent trend, as joblessness in the southwest New Mexico county had declined substantially over the past several months, reaching a low of 10.6% in October. The November figure remains well below the peak unemployment rate of 18% Luna County saw in April.

At the other end of the spectrum, Los Alamos County once again posted the state's lowest jobless rate at 2.3%, the same figure it registered in October. Union County was second at 3.3%, Curry County was third at 3.6% and Hidalgo County was fourth at 3.8%. De Baca County, at 3.9%, was the only other county in New Mexico with an unemployment rate of less than 4%.

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