LCSN: Jobless numbers falling slowly

April 5, 2010. Retrieved online: April 5, 2010, from Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – The unemployment rate in the Las Cruces area continues to inch downward, but don’t call it a trend.

“When it’s going down, it goes slower than when it goes up,” said Richard Wagner, area director with the New Mexico Workforce Connection office in Las Cruces. “What I see, it’s going to be like this: a little bit of a decrease in unemployment, a little of increase in people hiring, but it is slow right now.”

On Wednesday, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions released statistics for February that show the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Doña Ana County was 8.2 percent for the month, which is down from 8.4 percent in January and 8.5 percent in December.

The rate is still two percentage points higher than it was for the same time period last year when it was 6.2 percent in February.

“The best comparison is to what it was a year ago,” said Chris Erickson, who teaches economics and international business at New Mexico State University.

Still, both men said there is good news to be had.

“Construction (work) is going up a little bit; some of those guys are going back to work,” Wagner said.

“We’re starting to see a turnaround in the service sector, which is a very good sign,” Erickson said.

The state reports that education and health care services added 400 jobs in the Las Cruces area, while federal government added 200 more jobs than last year.

Six other industries, though, reported job losses. They are: construction; manufacturing; retail trade; wholesale trade; information; leisure and hospitality; transportation; and warehousing and utilities.

Statewide, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in February, up from January’s 8.5 percent rate and up from 6.1 percent a year ago.

Workforce Solutions reports that New Mexico has lost 22,800 jobs since February 2009. Despite an over-the-year job growth rate of negative 2.8 percent in February, the department says New Mexico’s job growth outranks Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

If you’re interested in learning more about the current state of the economy, an economic update forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in Milton Hall on the NMSU campus.

The event is free and open to the public. Erickson is scheduled to speak about the local and regional economy. He will be joined by his colleagues from the College of Business Jim Peach, who will talk about the national economy, and Ken Martin, who is scheduled to talk about the stock market, and will look at the affect of health care reform on the financial markets.

Brook Stockberger can be reached at; (575) 541-5457.

Economic forum

  • When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday
  • Where: Milton Hall at NMSU
  • Cost: free

Read the article.

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