Earlier this week, the latest unemployment numbers were released and New Mexico remained stuck with the highest rate in the nation (6.7%). That’s obviously not good news.
But, as we’ve pointed out in the past, unemployment numbers only tell part of the story. If people have dropped out of the workforce, they are not included in the unemployment rate. So, it is important to consider the workforce participation rate as well.
And, as the chart below which tracks US and New Mexico workforce participation rates dating back to 1976, New Mexico (finally) saw a rebound in 2015 after years of decline.
Before you get too excited, it is worth noting that New Mexico still trails every other neighboring state:
Is this just a “dead cat bounce” or is it a sign that more New Mexicans are getting back to work? It’s hard to say. What we know is that New Mexico’s economy needs some dramatic free market reforms that push our unemployment rate down and increase the numbers of New Mexicans who are “makers” as opposed to “takers.”