New Mexico’s economy and the Trump-effect

According to polls put out by the website Five Thirty Eight a few weeks ago, President Donald Trump’s popularity has declined more in New Mexico than in any other state. Of course, Trump didn’t win New Mexico in the first place, so the President wasn’t exactly popular in the Land of Enchantment.

Whatever New Mexicans think of Trump, it might be worth noting that by one important metric, unemployment rate, New Mexico has arguably benefited more than any other state. According to unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 6.5% in January of 2017 when Trump took office. The rate has declined to 5.1% as of May 2018, the greatest decline over that period experienced by any state.

By way of comparison, under eight years of Obama, New Mexico’s unemployment rate rose from 6.2% in January of 2009 to 6.6% when Obama left in December of 2017.

Can we credit Trump for all of this? No, of course not. State policies and even more importantly broader economic forces including the discovery of new oil fields in Southeastern New Mexico are additional factors. Also, New Mexico’s GDP and other economic data are not nearly as strong. But, for a state that has been down so long economically, any good is good news and Trump’s pro-energy, tax -cutting policies must be considered part of the equation (Santa Fe hasn’t done anything!)


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3 Replies to “New Mexico’s economy and the Trump-effect”

  1. Maybe the state didn’t support Trump as a whole, but S.E. NM usual the conservative voters re overlooked in this liberal state.

  2. Is there a county breakdown on those employment stats? My guess is that SE New Mexico, which has an actual private economy, saw a surge from the Trump economy that the state government was powerless to prevent.

    The rest of the state, which depends heavily on government employment and is dominated by anti-growth NIMBYs, may remain an island of progressive poverty in an otherwise prosperous region.

    1. James, we do have county-level employment data. In Lea County and Eddy County, in the oil patch, job growth is booming. As for unemployment, the lowest rates are in Union (2.5 percent), Los Alamos (2.7 percent), Eddy (2.8 percent), Hidalgo (3.1 percent), and Curry (3.2 percent). Three are on the Texas border, and Los Alamos is full of super-high-achieving folks who have multiple science degrees and keep their families together. Unemployment is highest in McKinley (5.6 percent), Taos (6.2 percent), Torrance (6.4 percent), Sierra (6.7 percent), and Luna (10.6 percent.) Hard for me to grasp that lousy result for Sierra County — after all, it’s the home of “Spaceport America”!

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