Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office gave itself a big pat on the back Friday after the latest jobs report showed New Mexico created 45,000 jobs in the last year–“the fourth highest in the nation.”
“New Mexico’s unemployment rate is now half a percentage point lower that it was prior to the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, underscoring the positive results of the economic investments Gov. Lujan Grisham’s administration has continued to make.”
Unfortunately, none of these achievements appear to be true.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday, New Mexico has the highest unemployment rate in the country, with more unemployed and fewer in the workforce than in December 2019, before the COVID pandemic exploded.
A total of 952,809 people are in New Mexico’s workforce, 46,432 (or 4.9%) of whom are unemployed, compared to 966,624 in the workforce pre-pandemic and 45,837 (or 4.7%) unemployed. That’s a difference of 13,815 jobs that have not returned since COVID hit.
MLG’s office didn’t reference or cite any actual data, but the claims are independently verifiable. None appear to be true.
New Mexico’s unemployment rate us not a “half a percentage point lower that it was prior to the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.” According to federal data, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in December 2019, and 4.8% in both January 2020 and February 2020. The United States declared a state of emergency in January 2020. New Mexico’s unemployment rate hit 5.9% in March and 11.3% in April.
BLS data also shows New Mexico created 40,000 job since June 2021, not 45,000, and that 5% year-over-year change is not “the fourth highest in the nation.”
According to BLS, New Mexico tied New York and Oregon for seventh-best year-over-year change in jobs, below Nevada, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, Florida, and California.
This type of selective reading of the economic data has become common for beleaguered Democrats. The Biden Administration famously declared it “created more jobs in the first eight months” than “any president in American history.”
There are “millions” more jobs today than when Biden took office, but those are not “new” jobs that the president “created.” They’re jobs that returned after the federal and state governments shut down the country. In fact, the United States still hasn’t returned to Donald Trump’s jobs market.
Like New Mexico, the country is still at a jobs deficit compared to pre-pandemic numbers. The latest BLS data shows that America remains a half a million jobs shy of where it was in December 2019, and they may not be coming back. After Trump oversaw the first rise in workforce participation since George W. Bush, workforce participation rate is stuck at 62.2%–1.2 points below pre-pandemic levels. It has fallen from the post-COVID peak of 62.4% in March.
Only one of New Mexico’s neighboring states fared worse: Arizona has 23,000 fewer jobs today than it did before the pandemic, but the silver lining for the Grand Canyon State is that its unemployment rate is only 3.3%, 1.3 points lower than December 2019. So while people have left the workforce, there are fewer unemployed than before COVID.
Texas, Utah, Colorado, and Oklahoma have all fully recovered from the pandemic, posting lower unemployment rates and a larger labor force than before COVID hit.