NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – How many New Mexicans took advantage of the state’s incentive hiring program and went back to work? The state hoped their incentive checks of up to $1,000 would get up to about 15,000 New Mexicans back to work. However, new numbers show only about 4,000 New Mexicans did go back to work. The struggle to find workers is still a common problem.

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“We get bad reviews on Yelp and other review sites because of wait times or staffing issues. It’s out of our control,” said the owner of Duran Central Pharmacy Mona Ghattas.

The latest numbers show unemployment at 7.2%, one of the highest rates in the country but it is down from 7.6% in July. At the beginning of July, the state announced their return-to-work payment incentives offering people $1,000 if they went back to work immediately and then slightly lower amounts every week that followed.

Nearly 4,000 New Mexicans took advantage of that program costing the state $2.9 million. When the state announced the program, they projected to spend $10 million in American Rescue Plan funding and get 15,000 people back to work.

“Maybe this incentive to get people back to work is a step in the right direction. I’m definitely not going to criticize it. I think it’s a good step, I just wonder how many people are going to line up to go to work now,” said George Griego, owner of Central Grill.

Of course, the unemployment bonuses of $300 a week ended earlier this month. New numbers are not yet known and we do not yet know the total impact that has had on the state. Right now, it looks like those 4,000 people who got the incentive made up somewhere between 5% to 10% of people who were on unemployment.

KRQE News 13 asked the state what industries gained the most workers from those back-to-work incentives but that information wasn’t available yet.