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More jobs in New Mexico than before the pandemic, state experts say

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – There are more jobs in New Mexico than before the pandemic, and unemployment is trending down, according to some of the state’s leading economists. They gave lawmakers a snapshot Monday of how the state is doing economically, and what they’re predicting in the next few budget years.

“Probably the most significant thing from all the changes to the baseline forecast is that neither of our national forecasts are now forecasting a recession of the U.S. economy,” said Stephanie Schardin Clarke, secretary of the Tax and Revenue Department. New Mexico’s economic outlook in the coming years is looking rosy, according to the secretary.

“New Mexico economy grew by 2.85 percent over the last year and the leading contributors included construction, retail trade, and several other sectors,” Schardin Clarke stated.

Presenting data to lawmakers in Las Cruces Monday, Schardin Clarke said nationally the U.S. is adding around 258,000 jobs a month—surpassing pre-pandemic employment trends, and that holds true in New Mexico.

“New Mexico is among the top job gainers amongst all states in the most recent month we had data for, that was June 2023, adding 7,300 jobs in that month,” Schardin Clarke said. On average, New Mexico added about 3,300 non-farm jobs over the last year.

“Those gains are very broad-based but some of the largest gains were in mining—adding 3,500 jobs that includes oil and gas production; local government adding 8,000 jobs; leisure and hospitality adding nearly 6,000 jobs,” she said.

Unemployment is also trending down nationwide and on the state level, hovering around 3.5% in New Mexico.

“In general, we have more job openings in New Mexico right now than we have workers willing to take them,” she explained.

“We’ve really struggled to bounce back to our pre-pandemic levels of people who are actively wanting work or working,” stated Legislative Finance Committee Chief Economist Ismael Torres.

Experts said wages and salaries are rising. Inflation also rose by more than 3% since last year but is starting to trend downwards.

“Great presentation, wonderful news. We can do some wise things with our dollars and invest them in the right way,” said Senator Benny Shendo, Jr., chair of the Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee.