LCSN: Public jobs harder to come by

January 9, 2012. Retrieved online January 9, 2012 from Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News

Posted: 01/08/2012 11:07:42 PM MST. LAS CRUCES – You’ve heard all the arguments: Get a government job because then you’ll work Monday to Friday, 8-hour days, all the holidays off and – voice pitch and eyebrows often rise with this last kernel of imparted wisdom – you’ll have great benefits.

None of that advice is false, but nor is any of it a given either. In fact, right now, the public sector job situation – as with many things touched by the economy the past several years – is not exactly strong.

Growth in 2011 in Dona Ana County, such as it was, came in the private sector. The Las Cruces area added about 400 jobs in private industry, with half of those coming in the health care and educational field.

On the flip side, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions reports that, through the end of November, government sector employment was down 900 jobs in the Las Cruces area. Federal, state and local government hiring was down compared to 2010. Statewide, those numbers are down as well.

“In this budget environment, the government, at all levels, is not a growth industry,” said Jim Peach, who teaches economics and international business at New Mexico State University.

This is important information for our area – heck, for the whole state – because so many people work in or with the public sector.

“Las Cruces would be about the size of Deming if not for the public sector,” Peach said.

He points out that the average New Mexican pays about $4,000 in taxes to the federal government, yet the amount of federal expenditure in New Mexico averages out to about $13,000 a head.

“For New Mexico, the federal government is a really good deal,” Peach said. “What could really hurt is if Congress and the president get serious about budget cutting at the federal level.”

Chris Erickson, who also teaches economics at NMSU, said that this year’s federal drop off has a specific reason.

“Federal employment is down this year due to the lay off of Census workers. In fact, as of November, federal employment is exactly the same as of November 2009,” Erickson said.

So, there has not been a real drop necessarily, but those stats also mean, as Erickson explained, “we have seen no federal employment growth over the last two years.”

As for state and local public sector jobs – which include schools as well as municipal, county and government jobs – there have not been cuts so much as there have not been replacements.

Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article

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