New Mexico still struggling in job market

Posted at: 11/19/2012 5:32 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Photo: Mayor Richard Berry
Photo: Mayor Richard Berry

We are just a few days away from an awful anniversary. The great recession started in December 2007, and New Mexico is still struggling to recover from it.

The Albuquerque metro area ranks 91st out of 102 American cities when it comes to the percentage of jobs lost in the last five years, according to the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the fall of 2007, Albuquerque had 316,800 jobs. In the fall of 2012, the city had 288,600 jobs, a loss of 28,200 jobs or 8.9 percent of the labor force. That puts Albuquerque  down near the bottom, along with Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and Las Vegas. Cities like Austin, Houston and El Paso have seen significant job growth in the same period.

You only have to go back to last week to see the whole grim picture in action. Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry delivered the annual state of the city address, and the dominant theme was jobs and the economy.

"I believe we're at a crossroads," the mayor told a noontime crowd of business and government leaders. "Our economic destiny is up to us. We must be more competitive if we're going to attract the private sector jobs we need for today and tomorrow."

The very next day, GE Intelligent Platforms announced it is pulling the plug on its Albuquerque plant and sending most of its high tech jobs to Alabama.

That same day, Gov. Susana Martinez toured the Lowe's call center, which is expanding and adding 300 new call center jobs.

"How do we compete with Texas, " Martinez said. "How do we compete with Colorado and Arizona?. We can't with a high corporate tax and so that's my job; to push forward with an agenda that makes an even playing field so they won't jump over New Mexico and go to Texas but they stay here."