New Mexico’s Empty Unemployment Rate Drop

By Matthew Reichbach

Despite headlines that the unemployment rate in New Mexico dropped to 6.8 percent in June, digging into the numbers shows the jobs situation in New Mexico remains dire.

The Santa Fe New Mexican noted that New Mexico ranked 50th in job growth. That’s dead last in the nation. Winthrop Quigley of the Albuquerque Journal said the numbers on jobs “are conflicting” and that “at least some employment data show New Mexico mired in a recession.” And the Santa Fe Reporter wrote that the numbers “don’t add up.”


Gerry Bradley, an economist and research director for New Mexico Voices for Children, told Clearly New Mexico that the unemployment rate largely reported in the media is “irrelevant” and that “no economist takes the unemployment rate as a good indicator of where the economy is going.”

Instead, Bradley suggests looking at the numbers from the Current Employment Statistics, or CES.

“The CES is a fairly large survey of employers in the state,” Bradley suggested in a phone interview with Clearly New Mexico. “At the same time that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is running this one program to get the unemployment rate, they’re running another survey that gives you employment data.”

Looking at this data paints a different picture from the unemployment rate that the media concentrates on.

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Hard Times: Colbert to Pick Up Hoe; plus The Great Recession’s Impact on NM

Recently, the United Farm Workers (UFW) launched the “Take Our Jobs” campaign, an effort to highlight the importance of immigrant workers to our food supply — and the difficulties agricultural employers have in maintaining a stable, legal workforce.

Last night, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez was a guest on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Responding to the oft-repeated charge that undocumented immigrants who work in the fields are taking jobs away from American citizens, Rodriquez pointed out that few Americans are willing to take these jobs and their difficult working conditions.  That’s part of the inspiration behind the “Take Our Jobs” challenge.

Unfazed, Steven Colbert accepted the challenge. Sometime soon then, we can expect to see Stephen hoeing and weeding in some field in California or Arizona, camera team in tow.  He asked Rodriguez if there would be air conditioning.  You can watch it here:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Arturo Rodriguez
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The Great Recession in NM

In other news, a recent report from NM Voices for Children is worth the read.  Entitled “The Great Recession: How New Mexico Workers Are Faring,” it looks at wages and unemployment rates by job sector, compares the impact of the last four recessions on workers, the effect of the Unemployment Compensation program, and the longer-lasting personal consequences of a recession.

Here are some of the key findings of the report:

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Labor Day Logic: “Morally and Economically Indefensible”

Will rising yacht sales will lead to economic recovery.

Will rising yacht sales lead to economic recovery? Reich thinks not.

Democracy for New Mexico has a great post today (as usual) detailing the heavy toll the Great Recession is taking on working families.

NM Voices for Children issued a press release today urging the state’s congressional delegation to act quickly to extend unemployment insurance. An estimated 1,500 New Mexicans are expected to collect their last check by the end of the year.

According to Gerry Bradley of NM Voices for Children:

New Mexico’s working families are counting on Congress to make this cause their top priority so they are not left out in the cold without a paycheck or unemployment check to pay their mortgages and other bills. Without action to expand benefits, New Mexico will hit a severe setback on the road to recovery. These extensions not only help struggling families stay afloat – they are a direct stimulus to the local economy, which will help with job creation.”

For more facts, check out this report from the National Employment Law Project.

And former Labor Secretary Robert Reich minced few words on his blog today:

I keep hearing that the economic meltdown has taken a huge toll on the stock portfolios of the rich. That’s true. But the rich haven’t lost nearly as much of their assets, proportionately, as everyone else. According to a report from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (“The Myth of the Overleveraged Consumer”), analyzing data from the Federal Reserve, the bottom 90 percent of Americans hold 50 percent of more of their assets in residential real estate, which has taken a far bigger beating than stocks and bonds…

Reich asks, where will the demand come from to revive the economy? He’s appalled by the answer given by Bank of America Merrill Lynch:

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