The first week of the reinstated shutdown of interior dining at New Mexico restaurants coincided with a 27 percent increase in weekly initial jobless claims, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
New Mexico saw 8,135 new claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending July 18, the highest number since early May. In addition to those claims were 3,438 filed through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed workers, contractors and gig economy workers.
New Mexico was among 15 states to see increases in new unemployment claims, while claims nationwide dropped to 1.37 million for the week of July 18 from 1.51 million a week earlier.
Santa Fe County had a brighter week than the state, with a 7.5 percent decrease in new claims, to 414, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
New Mexico’s unemployment rate had dropped to 11.42 percent July 11, the lowest rate since April 11. But that is likely to be higher now, following the July 13 closure of indoor dining.
Restaurants and hotels had started to see an employment boost in June, with some 13,300 more people working that month than in May as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham began easing COVID-19-related business restrictions.
The numbers were grim compared with June 2019, however: 24,500 job losses in the industry, according to Workforce Solutions.
Mining and logging — which includes the oil and natural gas industry — was New Mexico’s other big loser in June, with a 6,400 drop in employment compared with June 2019.
The information sector lost 1,900 jobs or 16.7 percent year over year but gained 100 jobs from May to June. The information sector is comprised of publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcast, telecommunications, data processing and other information services, according to Workforce Solutions.
Education lost 2,300 jobs year over year, Workforce Solutions reported.
“The chart shows that, although sobering, New Mexico’s labor market thus far has been less severely impacted than in most other states and is in better shape than in the US as a whole,” the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico wrote in a report.
“The reason that the number of unemployed increased by so much less than the number who recently lost their jobs is that many dropped out of the labor force,” the report said.
“This points to something further. It is very likely that many or most of these newly-unemployed persons simply left the state.”