With federal unemployment assistance ending in New Mexico on Sept. 4, Albuquerque resident Rhiannon Chavez-Ross worries she could lose her house. A single mom with two children, Chavez-Ross lost her party and event business when the COVID-19 pandemic began. She said she received a Paycheck Protection Program loan of less than $1,000 for her business last year and she has been on unemployment benefits since the early days of the virus’ spread. But, she said she has had to supplement her unemployment relief with money from her savings.
On Monday, March 30, the state of New Mexico announced a new and improved phone system for people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and need help getting their unemployment checks, which many need to survive. Within hours, the system buckled under the weight of more than 500,000 calls.
The new call-in system, operated by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS), did little but hang up on people and tell them to try their call later, owing to the unprecedented volume.
“We have had half-a-million incoming calls by lunchtime,” said Bill McCamley, the cabinet secretary for DWS. The phone system was supposed to supplement the DWS website (jobs.state.nm.us), where salaried employees who have lost their jobs — and in the coming weeks, independent contractors, gig economy workers and the self-employed — are encouraged to file unemployment claims.
But not all New Mexicans have computers or broadband; some are not comfortable online and would rather talk to a live person; and still others run into complications with the online application and need human help. The website’s automated system for chat queries only connects people to a bot, which directs them back to the website and can’t answer specifics. So people call.
New Mexico’s unemployment rate continues to fall, but is still second-worst in the nation. The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that New Mexico’s unemployment rate in December 2017 fell to 6 percent, down from 6.7 percent in December 2016. The state now has the same rate as the District of Columbia. Nationwide, the unemployment rate is at 4.1 percent. Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate—2 percent—and Alaska has the highest, 7.3 percent.
The unemployment rate in New Mexico remains the highest in the nation, with no change from the last time numbers were released. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that New Mexico’s nonfarm, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March was 6.7 percent for the second consecutive month. Meanwhile the nationwide unemployment rate dropped from 4.7 percent in February to 4.5 percent in April, with 17 states seeing lower rates and 33 states, including New Mexico, with stable rates. New Mexico’s neighbor to the north, Colorado, had the lowest employment rate in the nation March—just 2.6 percent. Utah had an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent and Arizona and Texas each had rates of 5 percent.
New Mexico’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the state employment numbers for January released Monday morning, New Mexico’s unemployment rate is now 6.7 percent, above Alaska (6.5 percent) and Alabama (6.4 percent). The overall unemployment rate across the United States is 4.8 percent. Related: New Mexico ‘worst-run’ state in the nation. Again.
A high poverty rate, dire budget situation and high unemployment led to New Mexico once again being named the worst-run state in the nation, according to a list compiled by 24/7 Wall St. This is the second year in a row that the publication ranked New Mexico as the worst-run state in the country. The site ranks the states based on “measures of financial health and fiscal responsibility, as well as socioeconomic outcomes such as unemployment, poverty, and crime — conditions state governments are tasked with managing and improving.”
In addition to other economic factors, 24/7 Wall St. cited Moody’s Investor Services downgrading the state’s credit rating which came because of a general lack of general fund reserves. New Mexico is also seeing stagnant population growth, another indicator the New York-based publication looks at.
The rate of unemployed New Mexicans is the second-highest in the nation after increasing in August. That’s according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal agency which released its latest state-by-state preliminary employment figures Tuesday. New Mexico’s unemployment was 6.6 percent in August, still much higher than the 4.9 percent rate in the United States overall. The lowest unemployment rate is in South Dakota, which has a 2.9 percent unemployment rate. The only state with a higher unemployment rate than New Mexico is Alaska, which has a 6.8 percent unemployment rate.
New Mexico’s unemployment rate now in July hit 6.4 percent, the third-highest in the country. Those numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Friday. The unemployment rate in New Mexico stood at 6.2 percent from March until June. The national unemployment rate stood at 4.9 percent. This is a drop from a year ago, when New Mexico’s July unemployment rate was 6.6 percent.
New Mexico’s economy sputtered and sank into negative territory in April as the downturn in the oil and gas industry continued to drag the economy down. The state lost 300 jobs in the year that ended April 30, for a negative 0.01 percent growth rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. It was the first time in several years that overall job growth turned negative, and it showed just how dependent the state’s economy is on the oil and gas sector, which lost 6,400 jobs over the year for a negative 25 percent growth rate. Related industries also shed jobs, including trade, transportation and utilities, which was down 2,000 jobs, or 2.5 percent, and construction, which was off 900 jobs, or 2 percent. Six industry sectors lost jobs and five gained them, according to the BLS figures, which were not seasonally adjusted.
With reports that New Mexico has a net-negative job growth, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the fastest-shrinking city in the country is in New Mexico. A report by 24/7 Wall St. found that the Farmington, New Mexico metropolitan statistical area is the fastest-shrinking city in the country. Farmington was the only New Mexico city to land on the list, which tracked cities from 2010 to 2015. According to the report, Farmington has seen its population shrink by 8.8 percent in the last five years. This is more than two percentage points higher than second place, Pine Bluff, Arkansas with 6.38 percent.