New Mexico towards top of places where people don’t work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for February 2015, New Mexico’s unemployment rate is 6.0%. That puts us at 35th in the nation, significantly higher than the 5.5 percent rate nationwide. That doesn’t seem too terrible considering all the bad economic news facing our state, but it is also not the full story.

When it comes to adults in the workforce, New Mexico definitely lags behind most states. As seen in the chart below from The Fiscal Times, New Mexico only outperforms such perpetual laggards as West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama. Interestingly, the states of the upper-Midwest, regardless of political party, dominate the top slots both in terms of low unemployment rates and high work force participation:

Perhaps our policy reforms also need a healthy dose of cultural change?