September 2, 2012. Retrieved online DATE from Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES — This Labor Day a legitimate question is: Where are the jobs?
There are jobs, of course, but which areas are on the upswing this year?
Through the first six months of the year, compared to 2011, the Las Cruces area has added jobs in education and health care as well as transportation and construction.
The areas that did not fare as well? Financial activities, wholesale trade and professional/business services all lost jobs.
According to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, over the year, total non-farm employment for the Las Cruces metropolitan statistical area (all of Doña Ana County) was down 1,100 jobs or 1.6 percent, with the entire net loss coming in the government sector, down 5.7 percent.
“If you want to know what’s going on, the national economy is not growing as fast as we thought it might,” said New Mexico State University economist Jim Peach. “The net job gain in the state is virtually flat over the last year, year and a half.”
Beverlee McClure, president and CEO of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry, said that the nationwide troubles finally caught up with the Land of Enchantment.
“We kind of got used to always doing better than the nation and always thinking we were buffered from anything like a recession,” she said. “That ended for us in 2008.”
Workforce solutions reports that total private-sector employment was unchanged from a year earlier.
Employment remained unchanged over the year in the remaining five industries: manufacturing, retail trade, information, leisure and hospitality, and miscellaneous other services. The 1,100-job decline in government employment resulted from losses at all three component levels: state, down 500 jobs or 6.8 percent; federal, down 300 jobs or 7.3 percent; local, down 300 jobs or 3.8 percent.
“Since the peak of the recession, we’ve lost 49,000 non-farm payroll jobs in the state,” Peach said.
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The situation could become very dire, though, if Congress does not act by the end of the year to extend existing tax cuts. If Congress does not approve the action, or reach a deal, deep federal cuts will automatically take place.
“A lot (of cuts) will occur in defense we rely heavily on defense expenditures (in the state),” Peach said. “UNM estimated we could lose as many as 20,000 jobs.”
He said he believes the government will not allow that to happen, although a deal might not come until the last minute.
“My feeling is that they’ll do it after the election in a lame duck congress,” he said. “It could occur on Jan. 2. We could go over the cliff for a few hours but it could be resolved.”