ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — The latest KRQE News 13 poll shows that the economy is the number one issue for many New Mexican voters. And in a recent ad, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham touts the economic progress her administration has made. But what are the facts?
KRQE News 13 is looking into the gubernatorial candidates’ political advertisements in the run-up to Election Day to help you get the full story. Here are the details behind Lujan Grisham’s latest ad.
Job growth…or shrinkage?
Lujan Grisham’s latest ad claims that under her leadership, New Mexico has seen 32,000 “new jobs.” The ad cites statistics from the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS).
But, the ad is rounding up. The latest report from DWS shows that New Mexico gained 31,500 jobs (not including farm work, which is calculated separately) from September 2020 to September 2021. Delaney Corcoran, the spokesperson for the Lujan Grisham campaign, says that although they rounded up, they estimate the real number of new jobs created could be even higher.
If you look at the change in employment since Lujan Grisham first entered office in January 2019, data indicates a different story in terms of the total number of people holding jobs in New Mexico during the Governor’s tenure. Several thousand fewer New Mexicans are employed now compared to the start of 2019, data from DWS reveals.
From January 2019 to September 2022, New Mexico’s total seasonally adjusted employment decreased by 0.3%. During that same period, the U.S.’s total seasonally adjusted employment increased by 1.5%, according to data from DWS.
Corcoran points out that it is possible to create new jobs, even as overall employment decreases.
The ad continues to claim that unemployment hit a 14-year low under Lujan Grisham’s leadership. The ad cites U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data to reach that conclusion.
KRQE News 13 reviewed the federal data going back to 1993. It shows New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is at the lowest it’s been since July 2008.
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Data shows that New Mexico’s current unemployment rate is at a 14-year low. Data from BLS.
Wages and Businesses
Lujan Grisham’s ad also claims that the state now has “higher wages.” What the ad means, according to a press release from the campaign, is that the median household income has increased in New Mexico.
Data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve does show that New Mexico’s median household income has been on an upward trend since the 1980s. But Lujan Grisham hasn’t been guiding the state since then. However, the state’s minimum wage has changed in the last four years..
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Data shows that New Mexico’s median household income has been on the rise for decades. From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Under Lujan Grisham’s administration, state lawmakers raised New Mexico’s minimum wage through a bill. When Lujan Grisham took office in 2019, minimum wage was $7.50 per hour.
Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 347 during the 2019 legislative session, which scheduled minimum wage increases through 2023. The current minimum wage is now $11.50 per hour and will go to $12 per hour in January 2023. While Lujan Grisham didn’t get a wage increase done on her own (it took votes and amendments from legislators), she did urge lawmakers to bring the increase to fruition in her 2019 State of the State address.
Lujan Grisham’s ad also touts the creation of “more small businesses than before the pandemic.” That claim comes from data kept by the state’s Economic Development Department (EDD).
The number of physical business establishments increased by 10.3% from the third quarter of fiscal year 2019 (before the pandemic) to the third quarter of fiscal year 2022, according to the EDD. That’s over 6,000 new physical business locations.
The ad also notes that New Mexico has seen a record number of new businesses. The ad cites data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
That data shows that a record number of new Employer Identification Numbers were filed in New Mexico since the pandemic. Those filing are required for businesses, so they act as a stand-in for the number of new businesses being formed. And the data shows that it wasn’t just New Mexico that saw a new business boom. Similar trends were seen across the U.S.
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Clean Energy Jobs
Lujan Grisham’s ad says that New Mexico is “number one for clean energy job growth.” On screen, the ad cites 2021 numbers from a group called “E2,” which describes itself as a national, nonpartisan organization advocating for “smart policies that are good for the economy.”
A report from E2 says that New Mexico’s clean energy employment “saw an 8% jump in clean energy jobs after passing sweeping clean energy legislation in 2020-2021.” That’s the largest growth rate among all 50 states, according to the report.
But the report also notes that in overall rankings for clean energy employment, New Mexico is ranked at 45 out of 50 in terms of total jobs. Despite recent growth, clean energy jobs only make up 1.5% of the state’s total workforce, the report says. In many other states, clean energy jobs make up between 2% and 3% of the total workforce.