ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - New Mexico remains in a slog toward economic recovery.
Data compiled by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research showed troubling job creation numbers for the second half of 2011, according to The Albuquerque Journal (http:// bit.ly/ IDRXgr .)
Third-quarter employment last year grew 0.4 percent to 371,700 jobs in the Albuquerque area over the same quarter of 2010. Fourth-quarter employment was 373,500 — a decline of 0.1 percent from the same time a year earlier.
The state's personal income numbers were encouraging, however. New Mexico's personal income was up 4.4 percent year-over-year in the third quarter and up 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter.
Income growth earlier in 2011 was driven largely by transfer payments, including unemployment insurance and other social benefits. The latest increases were from improvement in wage and salary disbursements, said Lee Reynis, director of the university's Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
Transfer payments have been declining, mostly because of a decline in state unemployment insurance payments.
"Some of that is the economy is improving, but we are also getting to the end of some of the programs designed to provide assistance," such as extended unemployment benefits, Reynis said.
Overall, the data showed that state's economy was improving. Unemployment rates had edged downward, averaging 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011, 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter and 7.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012.
The Albuquerque metropolitan area, which includes Sandoval, Torrance, Bernalillo and Valencia counties, hasn't participated in New Mexico's recovery.
"Albuquerque has been lagging the rest of the state in this expansion," Reynis said. "Things looked like they were getting better. Then we got into the fourth quarter and things seemed to be getting worse."
Bernalillo County lost about 6,000 jobs in 2010, and it was still losing jobs in the third quarter of 2011, though, at 350 jobs, far fewer than before.
"What is disturbing is that in Bernalillo County the private sector is still negative in the third quarter," Reynis said. "There is a lot of weakness there."
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