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New Mexico Needs 40K More Workers for National Average

New Mexico lawmakers released a report in April that said the state needs 40,000 additional individuals between ages 20 and 54 working or looking for work to meet the national average for labor force participation.

“New Mexico’s labor force participation rate has long lagged behind the national average and that gap widened in recent years, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says the Improving New Mexico’s Workforce Participation report. “The state’s relatively low unemployment rate (4 percent in January 2024) seems to indicate a tight labor market but does not capture the full picture—one where many New Mexicans are persistently disengaged from the labor force and face significant, systemic barriers to reentry.”

KRQE says the report comes from the Legislative Finance Committee – a group that makes recommendations to lawmakers and has been tracking the state labor industry for years.

“The data shows labor participation (the number of those who could work and are working) has increased over the last few years, but it still lags behind the national average,” says KRQE.

New Mexico’s Workforce Participation is 44th in the U.S.

The report says that in 2023, New Mexico ranked 44th among the states for labor force participation rate (LFPR), noting that while the state has always lagged behind the national average, that gap has widened in recent decades.

“In February 2024, the national LFPR was 62.5 percent and New Mexico’s was 57.2 percent across all age groups. New Mexico would need to engage approximately 40 thousand prime-working-age people or 110 thousand people overall in the labor force to match the current national average labor force participation rate,” said the report.

The report found that 206,000 able-bodied prime-working-age people in New Mexico are not formally employed.

“Disengaged individuals, or those neither working nor going to school and not actively seeking employment, account for about 28 percent of the population,” said the report. “Disengagement in New Mexico is almost equally prevalent across racial and ethnic groups, suggesting that widespread under-participation in the labor force is not unique to any one group in the state.”

LFPR among prime-working-age people in New Mexico ranges from 83 percent in Los Alamos to 51 percent in Union. After Union, the counties with the lowest LFPR were:

  • Catron and Socorro: 55 percent
  • Mora and Cibola: 56 percent
  • Guadalupe: 58 percent

Behind Los Alamos, the highest LFPR were:

  • De Baca: 78 percent
  • Bernalillo: 77 percent
  • Santa Fe and Sandoval: 76 percent

Key Recommendations to Improve New Mexico’s Workforce Rate

The report provided key recommendations to three groups: The Workforce Solutions Department, local workforce development boards, and the legislature.

The Workforce Solutions Department should:

  • Set concrete, quantitative intermediary goals for improvement of the. New Mexico Works programs, with a focus on Career Link.

  • Work with the Health Care Authority to bolster New Mexico Works' performance by courting high-wage employers as Career Link partners and adding additional wraparound support to the program.

  • Revise its operating model for the New Mexico Works program to incorporate the evidence-based practices of providing education, training, and support services for all recipients, and report to the Legislature on these efforts by November 2024.

  • Implement the Aligned Case Management Institute’s proposed unified, closed-loop UPin referral platform by the end of FY25.

  • Track a control group of unemployment insurance (UI) claimants to better evaluate the outcomes of its reemployment services and employment assessment (RESEA) programs.

The local workforce development boards should:

  • Work collaboratively with each other, WSD, and the state workforce board to reevaluate workforce connections centers as the primary access points for services.

  • Work with WSD to determine which workforce connection centers should remain operational in the medium- and long-term.

  • Consider co-locating workforce connection center staff with important local partners such as community colleges or offices of the Health Care Authority’s Income Support Division.

  • Implement newer evidence-based strategies as part of their RESEA case management design.

The Legislature should:

  • Consider a targeted expansion of the state’s working families tax credit to non-custodial parents and childless workers to facilitate the reemployment transition for at-risk New Mexicans.

Where the Jobs Are in New Mexico and What They Pay

The New Mexico Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OWES) 2022 at a Glance showed that the median wage for all occupations in New Mexico was $39,900, nearly $6,500 less than the nationwide median wage of $46,310 and the eighth lowest in the country.

Findings from this report:

  • The largest occupational group in New Mexico was office and administrative support, with a 14.2 percent share of total employment, for a total of 116,000 jobs of the state’s total 818,800 jobs.

  • With 76,580 jobs, food preparation and serving related was the next largest occupational group, with an employment share of 9.4 percent.

  • Farming, fishing, and forestry were the smallest occupational groups with only 2,950 jobs, for a share of 0.4 percent.

  • Architecture and engineering had the highest statewide annual median wage ($99,730) with employment of 22,610.

  • The occupational group with the next-highest annual median wage was management ($96,700).

Employment by education for New Mexico was:

  • No formal educational credential: 23.1 percent (U.S. average 21.9 percent)
  • High school diploma or equivalent: 39.7 percent (U.S. average 38.2 percent)
  • Some college, no degree: 2.6 percent (U.S. average 2.7 percent)
  • Postsecondary nondegree award: 6.0 percent (U.S. average 6.1 percent)
  • Associate’s degree: 2.7 percent (U.S. average 2.1 percent)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 21.1 percent (U.S. average 24.5 percent)
  • Master’s degree: 2.1 percent (U.S. average 1.9 percent)
  • Doctoral/professional degree: 2.7 percent (U.S. average 2.6 percent)

BLS Latest Workforce Data for New Mexico

The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data for May 2023 shows the latest workforce data for New Mexico.

The BLS found New Mexico had 845,590 jobs with the state’s median hourly wage of $20.97 a mean hourly wage of $27.65 and a mean yearly wage of $57,520.

Employment (occupations and detailed job descriptions with more than 10,000 workers employed) included:

  • 117,510 Office and Administrative Support Occupations
    • 24,360 Secretaries and Administrative Assistance, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive
    • 20,330 Customer Service Reps
    • 15,260 Office Clerks, General
  • 80,640 Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations
    • 25,320 Fast Food and Counter Workers
    • 12,760 Waiters and Waitresses
  • 68,870 Sales and Related Occupations
    • 23,140 Retail Salespersons
    • 19,210 Cashiers
  • 62,090 Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
    • 15,790 Stockers and Order Fillers
    • 11,380 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
    • 10,110 Laborers and Freight, Stock and Material Movers, Hand
  • 54,790 Construction and Extraction Occupations
    • 10,930 Construction Laborers
  • 54,020 Healthcare Support Occupations
    • 36,560 Home Health and Personal Care Aides
  • 51,460 Educational Instruction and Library Occupations
  • 49,480 Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
    • 18,030 Registered Nurses
  • 46,340 Management Occupations
    • 17,200 General and Operations Managers
  • 44,540 Business and Financial Operations Occupations
  • 36,310 Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations
  • 26,390 Production Occupations
  • 25,710 Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations
    • 14,240 Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners
  • 24,530 Protective Services Occupations
  • 23,730 Architecture and Engineering Occupations
  • 22,890 Computer and Mathematical Occupations
  • 14,040 Community and Social Service Occupations
  • 13,130 Persona Care and Service Occupations
  • 10,100 Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations

The 15 Highest Median Hourly Wage Jobs:

  • Pediatricians, General $109.98
  • Family Medicine Physicians $109.13
  • Nurse Anesthetists $105.81
  • Dentists, All Other Specialists $92.70
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers $88.61
  • Dentists, General $87.62
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists $82.78
  • Physicists $82.53
  • Podiatrists $78.19
  • Optometrists $74.55
  • Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates $74.50
  • Advertising and Promotions Managers $72.11
  • Mining and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers $66.96
  • Chemical Engineers $66.89
  • Air Traffic Controllers $65.63

Highest Annual Mean Wage Jobs:

  • Neurologists $383,340
  • Cardiologists $382,740
  • Emergency Medicine Physicians $338,040
  • Surgeons, All Other $321,240
  • Physicians, All Other $302,650
  • Anesthesiologists $276,800
  • General Internal Medicine Physicians $270,750
  • Obstetricians and Gynecologists $266,030
  • Pediatricians, General $225,630
  • Family Medicine Physicians $221,010
  • Radiologists $215,840
  • Nurse Anesthetists $212,950
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers $203,850
  • Dentists, All Other Specialists $193,790
  • Dentists, General $190,530

Jobs by area in New Mexico:

  • Albuquerque: 396,030 (Median hourly wage $21.53 and annual mean wage $59,730).
  • Farmington: 45,330 (Median hourly wage $19.35 and annual mean wage $52,340)
  • Las Cruces: 75,470 (Median hourly wage $18.12 and annual median wage $51,680)
  • Santa Fe: 61,210 (Median hourly wage $21.59 and annual median wage $56,800)
  • Northern New Mexico nonmetropolitan: 80,650 (Median hourly wage $21.24 and annual mean wage $62,810)
  • Eastern New Mexico nonmetropolitan: 158,530 (Median hourly wage $19.55 and annual mean wage $52,360)

New Mexico’s low participation workforce rate makes it difficult for businesses to build their teams, but PRT Staffing can help your organization find qualified skilled, and temporary workers for both short- and long-term projects.

Reach out to PRT today for a fast, flexible staffing solution that will meet your business’s needs in the construction and skilled trades; manufacturing and light industrial; industrial and energy; disaster recovery and cleanup services; and hospitality and event staffing fields.