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Southern New Mexico Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators

Third Quarter 2019

New Mexico continues to post broad-based job gains, while the labor market is mixed in Las Cruces. Trade through the Port of Santa Teresa is up from a year ago, and Las Cruces continues to account for a growing share of the state’s total exports. Both New Mexico’s rig count and oil production continue to rise and reach new highs.

Labor Market

Las Cruces Payroll Growth Lags New Mexico

Through October, Las Cruces has added jobs at a 1.6 percent annual rate, below the state’s 2.3 percent annual rate (Chart 1).  Growth so far this year in Las Cruces has been similar to last year’s pace.

Chart 1

Job Gains Mixed in Las Cruces

Year-to-date job gains in Las Cruces are mixed. Government, which represents over 25 percent of total employment, advanced at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, driven mostly by growth in state and local government jobs (Chart 2). Education and health services, the metro’s second-largest sector, rose at a 4.3 percent annualized rate. Meanwhile, trade, transportation and utilities contracted at a 1.8 percent annual rate due to losses in wholesale and retail trade. Employment in leisure and hospitality and financial activities also dropped. Overall this year, the metro has added nearly 1,000 jobs through October 2019.

Chart 2

Meanwhile, New Mexico’s employment gains have been broad based in 2019. Through October, the state’s payrolls have expanded at a 2.3 percent annual rate. The fastest-growing sector, construction and mining, has risen by 5,600 jobs, accounting for over one-third of the 16,000 jobs added this year.  

Unemployment Rate Ticks Down

The September unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in Las Cruces, down from 5.7 percent in August (Chart 3). The southern New Mexico jobless rate dipped to 4.5 percent in September from 4.8 percent the previous month. Statewide, the jobless rate fell to 4.8 percent in October after holding steady at 4.9 percent for several months.

Chart 3

Santa Teresa Port Trade

Trade through the Port of Santa Teresa totaled $26.2 billion (annualized) in September, up 16.4 percent from a year earlier (Chart 4). Imports rose 18.0 percent to $14.3 billion, while exports rose 14.6 percent to $11.9 billion.

Chart 4

Metro Exports

Recently released data from the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that exports originating in Las Cruces totaled $1.47 billion in 2018, up 3.1 percent from the previous year (Chart 5). Computer and electronic products are the leading export from the region. In 2018, the value of these goods totaled $970 million.

In 2018, Las Cruces exports accounted for over half (57 percent) of the state’s total exports, up from 36 percent in 2008.

Chart 5

Rig Count and Oil Production

Despite softening oil prices, energy activity in New Mexico is seeing all-time highs (Chart 6). After hitting a recent low of 100 rigs in June, the rig count has recovered to 112 in October. Oil production is also at a record high averaging 936,000 barrels per day in August.

Chart 6

NOTES: Data may not match previously published numbers due to revisions. All New Mexico counties within the Federal Reserve’s Eleventh District are counted as part of southern New Mexico. Las Cruces is excluded from southern New Mexico to better gauge unemployment levels outside the region’s largest population center.

About Southern New Mexico Economic Indicators

Questions can be addressed to Marycruz De León at marycruz.deleon@dal.frb.org. Southern New Mexico Economic Indicators is released quarterly.

Economic Indicators