Tracking NM’s workforce participation rate

The Rio Grande Foundation has long noted that New Mexico’s lags those of neighboring states quite dramatically. As it stands now, the  unemployment rate in The Land of Enchantment remains relatively high (5.1%). That rate ties New Mexico for 49th although national unemployment rates continue to set record lows.

But what about getting people in the workforce who may have dropped out during the economic downturn of 2008? The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides that data going back to 1976 measured as a percent of employed as a percent of overall population.

The chart below uses January workforce participation rates from each year going back to 2010. As can be seen, New Mexico has consistently lagged the region in participation rates. Utah and Colorado not only lead the pack in participation rates, but they have made great gains since 2010. Arizona which has had low participation rates like New Mexico has also seen gains in workforce participation.

Worse, when it comes to New Mexico, it is the only state with a lower participation rate than it had in 2010. What are New Mexico policymakers doing to get more people working? Not much.


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