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Updated Jan 1, 2014 - 3:14 pm

New Mexico reports slow job growth

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Job growth over the past year in New Mexico has been the slowest among nine other states in the West, including neighboring Arizona, Colorado and Texas.

The latest market review by the New Mexico Workforce Solutions Department shows employment in New Mexico grew by 1,700 jobs between November 2012 and November 2013. That amounts to 0.2 percent.

Nationally, the job growth rate was 1.7 percent for the same period.

The report shows Texas led the region with year-over-year job growth of 2.5 percent, followed by Utah, Colorado and Arizona. Job growth in Arizona was 1.9 percent, while Colorado topped 2 percent.

New Mexico labor officials did point to a bright spot: The Albuquerque area marked positive annual job growth for the eighth consecutive month.

The metro area added about 3,200 jobs during the 12-month period ending in November. Private sector employment grew by 2,600 jobs, with most of that fueled by the construction industry.

The city did lose 1,000 manufacturing jobs over the year, however, and the usually robust educational and health services sector lost 200 jobs.

In Las Cruces, about 300 jobs were gained in 12 months, representing a 0.4 percent increase. Farmington saw its over-the-year job growth increase by 1.4 percent.

There is some potential for New Mexico's employment numbers to improve in 2014.

The labor report mentioned the effort by the University of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque to revitalize the commercial life of downtown Albuquerque through Innovate ABQ and the possibility of a major potash project in southeastern New Mexico.

International Potash is in the process of receiving approval from the Bureau of Land Management to break ground on the Lea County mining project. The construction phase is expected to last three years and cost about $1 billion.

In Dona Ana County, commissioners are considering expanding one of three foreign trade zones, which are commercial areas that exempt importers from paying typical tariffs and duties. Supporters contend that allowing importers to move their products anywhere in the county tax-free -- along with new transportation options stemming from Union Pacific Railroad's new facility -- would draw in new businesses.

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