Could this be the year — the year that New Mexico finally regains the number of jobs it had a decade ago?
The total number of nonfarm jobs in the Land of Enchantment, measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hit its peak in February 2008. That’s correct. New Mexico has had zero net employment growth in ten years.
Soon, that could change. As the chart above shows, of the 47 states that hit their employment peaks right before the dawn of the Great Recession, just four have yet to fully rebound.* Worst off is Wyoming, at -8.31 percent. The state that is most economically dependent on oil, natural gas, and coal is almost a shoo-in to climb its way back last — it’s simply too far behind, even with petroleum production surging. Next up is Connecticut (-2.09 percent), a state where runaway tax hikes, regulations, and government-union giveaways are chasing high-earners away. In the next slot is, sigh, New Mexico, at -0.51 percent. Rounding out the list is Mississippi (-0.24 percent) — most likely to follow its neighbor Alabama, which bested its previous peak a few months ago.
So will New Mexico re-attain its former jobs glory in 2018? Probably, given rising oil output and a boost from a booming national economy. But with the legislative session almost underway, and a raft of economic-freedom-constricting bills being drafted, it’s not a certainty….
* All but three states experienced the same employment trend during and after the Great Recession — peak jobs just before the downturn struck, followed by a significant drop-off, then a climb back toward the previous level. But Michigan, Alaska, and West Virginia encountered different conditions, and are thus difficult to categorize. Jobs were disappearing in the Wolverine State well before the Great Recession struck. The Last Frontier lost only a small number of jobs in the downturn, then rebounded quickly, but has since fallen beneath its peak. The Mountain State faced similar circumstances, rapidly regaining its employment level only to see jobs disappear in the coal industry in recent years. For these reasons, the three states are excluded from this analysis.