Last month Errors of Enchantment inaugurated a new system to benchmark employment growth in New Mexico. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts a regular analysis of 12-month employment changes in the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas. Our new analysis looks at New Mexico’s four MSAs, compared with the 49 MSAs found in the state’s five neighbors: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas.
As depicted in the chart above, in the second month of our research, the results still don’t look good. Average job growth from April 2016 to April 2017, for the non-New Mexico MSAs, was 1.4 percent. Las Cruces came closest to the regional pace, at 1.0 percent growth. But Albuquerque (0.5 percent) and Santa Fe (0.5 percent) lagged far behind, and Farmington dropped by 1.4 percent. (In the region, only Texarkana, at -1.6 percent, performed more dismally.)
The good news is that since bottoming out in September 2010, employment in New Mexico has been on a generally upward path (See chart below.) But the state has yet to regain its pre-Great Recession peak, and as the BLS data show, neighbor MSAs are doing much, much better. The Land of Enchantment remains desperate for proven, powerful policy tools to boost economic development. How much longer do we have to wait?