NM unemployment rate drops below 6%, but still trails national rate

Farmington still has highest jobless rate of state's four MSAs

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Unemployment in New Mexico and the Farmington metropolitan statistical area continued its nearly year-long downward trend in December, falling to 5.8% across the state and 5.9% locally.

The figures, released last week by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, show that joblessness declined or remained steady for the 11th straight month in the state. The December statewide rate was down from the 6.2% figure in November and the 8.6% unemployment rate in New Mexico in December 2021.

Across the United States, joblessness was down to 3.9% — a decline from the November rate of 4.2% and a reduction from the 6.7% national figure in December 2021.

More:Farmington job market faces continued challenges as high unemployment lingers

The rate in Farmington was down from the revised November figure of 6.3% and the 9.7% rate registered in December 2021. After months of declines, Farmington's jobless rate in November was flat compared to October, so the decline of 0.4% in December was perhaps a sign that the downward trend still has some momentum to it.

Despite the improving numbers, unemployment in the state continues to run higher than it is nationally. New Mexico tied for the fifth-highest rate in the country alongside Connecticut and the District of Columbia. But those three states are only a shade behind Hawaii and Alaska at 5.7%, and Michigan at 5.6%.

Unemployment is highest in California at 6.5%, followed by Nevada (6.4%), New Jersey (6.3%) and New York (6.2%).

At the other end of the spectrum, Nebraska (1.7%) and Utah (1.9%) have the lowest jobless rates in the country.

Among the four metropolitan statistical areas in New Mexico, the Farmington MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate, just as it has throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Albuquerque MSA was at 4.6% for December, down from 5% in November. The Santa Fe area also posted a 4.6% rate for December, while the Las Cruces area was at 4.9% — a decline from its November rate of 5.4%.

San Juan County continued to post the seventh-highest unemployment rate in the state in December at 5.9%. Luna County once again had the highest rate at 12.5%, while McKinley County was next at 6.5% and Lea County followed at 6.4%. Taos and Torrance counties tied for the fourth-highest rate at 6.2%, and Cibola County was sixth at 6%.

The jobless rate in Los Alamos County once again was the lowest in the state, tumbling from 2.3% in November to 2% in December. Union and Curry counties tied for second at 3.1%, while Harding and Hidalgo counties tied for fourth at 3.4%. De Baca (3.5%) and Roosevelt (3.7%) counties were the only other counties in New Mexico to post a jobless 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.