U.S. Labor Secretary offers hope to job market bound New Mexicans

Posted at: 10/26/2012 6:25 PM
Updated at: 10/26/2012 6:27 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News

Photo: Hilda Solis
Photo: Hilda Solis

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis paid as visit to UNM Friday, offering some hope for New Mexico's stuck-in-the-mud economy.

We are still spinning our wheels, while other states are pulling out of the recession - but the Labor Secretary sees hope for some traction at last.

New Mexico saw about 9,200 jobs disappear from Sept. 2011 to Sept. 2012, but Solis told UNM students and staff that there's hope for the creation of so-called STEM jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.

She said creating partnerships between manufacturers and universities and community colleges is the key. For the hard-hit construction trades, Solis said Congress should pass the President's $60 billion infrastructure bill.

"We could create a million jobs just in infrastructure," Solis said in an interview. "I'm talking about modernizing our schools, building out our dams and bridges, our highway system, our light speed rail. That would create, in and of itself, about a million jobs."

For New Mexico's sometimes-struggling renewable energy companies, Solis said she wants to work with lending institution to make more capital available.

"You have small entrepeneurs who maybe have 5 or 6 employees," Solis said. "They don't need a whole lot of people but they do need assets. They need more funding from the banks, more lending so they can help build out their manufacturing base and bring their product to market."

Solis said the Obama Administration wants to eliminate the inequities that give China an advantage in the solar industry.

She talked a lot about manufacturing, which has never been a strong suit in New Mexico.

While manufacturing took a tremendous hit in the recession, the latest numbers from the Labor Department show a growth of 700 jobs statewide since September 2011.