FARMINGTON — The area’s unemployment rate dropped a full percentage point in the past year to 6.4 percent amid recent private sector growth.

In October, total nonfarm employment in San Juan County grew by 300 jobs. Private firms added 500 jobs, while the public sector declined by 200 jobs, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions said Monday.

The numbers follow a recent trend of a shrinking labor force. In that situation, unemployment can decline even as jobs also drop.

For the year, the local labor force lost 1,500 jobs, or 3 percent of the workforce. All of the job losses came from the service industry, which lost 1,000 jobs, and government, which lost an additional 500 jobs.

The state agency said the number of unemployed continues to outpace job openings around New Mexico.
Jobs expected to continue to grow include registered nurses, elementary and middle school special education and vocational teachers, truck drivers, roustabouts, interpreters and translators and riggers.

Statewide, the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in October, down from 6.4 percent in September and 7.2 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in October.

New Mexico has the second-worst jobs record in the past year, behind only West Virginia. Total jobs fell 0.7 percent in New Mexico. North Dakota led the states with 5.3 percent job growth.