By Jim Owen
The official unemployment rate in Grant County stayed about the same in July, according to the state Department of Workforce Solutions.
There were 907 people (out of a work force of 11,592) actively looking for jobs. That amounted to a rate of 7.8 percent, the same as in July 2013. In June this year, 905 of 11,703 workers (7.7 percent) were seeking employment.
After falling below 6 percent in May, the first time in years it had been that low, the rate has been slowly increasing. The county was 11th in the state in joblessness last month, worse than its 13th-place ranking in May. Luna County continues to top the list, reaching 15 percent unemployment in July.
The only recent business opening in Grant County reported by the department was that of Forrest's Pizza by the Slice on Bullard Street.
According to online job listings, multiple positions are available with the town of Silver City, Gila Regional Medical Center and Hidalgo Medical Services. The new CVS Pharmacy has a number of openings, and Zia Publishing is expanding its sales force.
Sun Loan Co., at last report, was looking for a manager and a customer-service representative. Other posted jobs include a security guard at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., counter help at Wagner Equipment Co., a driver at the United Parcel Service and a salesperson at Rent-A-Center.
Ninety residents (5.7 percent of the labor force) reportedly were seeking employment during July in Catron County, where the rate was 5.9 percent in June and 6.1 percent in July 2013.
In Hidalgo County, 196 people (6.9 percent of the work force) were looking for jobs last month. That was up from 6.5 percent in June. The rate also was 6.5 percent in July 2013.
In Sierra County, the rates were 6 percent last month, and 6.1 percent in June 2014 and July 2013.
Statewide, 7.3 percent of the labor force was counted as unemployed in July. That was the same percentage as in the previous month, and down slightly from the 7.6 percent reported in July 2013. Nationally, jobless rates were 6.2 percent last month, 6.1 percent in June and 7.3 percent in July last year.
Official rates include only workers who have registered at state unemployment offices. The numbers do not include residents who are looking for work on their own, those who have given up searching, part-time employees or the under-employed.
The department reported that the number of jobs in the mining and logging industries in New Mexico increased by 300 from June to July, reaching 27,900. That was up 1,500 positions from July 2013.
In their monthly report, released Monday, state officials wrote:
"Non-farm payroll employment was up 4,300 jobs, or 0.5 percent (from July 2013 to last month). Gains in six industries offset losses in seven others, resulting in net growth continuing to remain stable following last month's first push into a
positive over-the-year rate in nine months.
"Education and health services led all industries with an increase of 5,000 jobs (4.1 percent) over the year, its highest numeric gain in over a decade. Job growth continued to surge in financial activities, which was up 1,600 jobs, or 4.8 percent. Mining was up 1,500 (5.7 percent), a numeric gain it has maintained for the last three months.
"Retail trade added 1,200 jobs, showing consistent over-the-year growth since September 2011, apart from two neutral months and one negative month in 2013. Leisure and hospitality, up 400; and transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 300, contributed smaller increases.
"The remaining six private sector industries all reported losses. Manufacturing, in its 21st month of negative growth, lost 2,000 jobs, representing a decline of 6.8 percent. Employment in professional and business services was down 1,500 jobs (1.5 percent).
"Miscellaneous other services lost 700 jobs, or 2.3 percent. Construction employment fell by 400 jobs, constituting a contraction of 0.9 percent. Wholesale trade lost 200 jobs, representing a decline of 0.9 percent. Information employment was down 100 jobs, or 0.8 percent.
"Government employment registered a net loss of 800 jobs since July of last year, representing a 0.4 percent decline, with most of the losses at the local and federal levels. Employment in local government was down by 400 (0.4 percent), while federal government fell by 300 jobs (1 percent). State government reported a loss of 100 jobs (0.2 percent) from last year."