The Stats on New Mexico’s Government Employment


Ashley Leach, an economist with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, has a useful — if incomplete — article in the latest edition of the bureaucracy’s Labor Market Review.

In 2015, Leach writes, among the states, only Wyoming and Alaska had greater shares of their workforces in “public service.” (See above.) But there’s a mighty large caveat worth noting. Employees at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories are classified as “private,” and thus, thousands of workers who are truly on the payroll of the federal government weren’t counted.

In 2013, the Mercatus Center included federal contractors in its analysis of the real private sector in the 50 states. It found an all-in public-sector share 31.9 percent for New Mexico — making our workforce the most taxpayer-dependent in the nation.

Looking at local and state employment, Leach finds that New Mexico ranks “fifth in the nation” for the share of total jobs. Both categories hit their absolute peaks in 2009. Since then, local employment has fallen by just 3.4 percent. State employment declined by a mere 5.7 percent. Not much right-sizing there.

Finally, in seven counties — Mora, De Baca, Socorro, Hidalgo, Catron, Rio Arriba, and Harding — government employment accounts for more than 40 percent of all jobs. In contrast, New Mexico’s oil country — Lea and Eddy Counties — has the lowest share of total government employment.