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In a previous article about the state of New Mexico’s economy, we were reminded that in some pockets (such as northern New Mexico,) the economy is doing well – there are lots of jobs – but it has been stagnant, especially with regards to wages. In a recent column, we talked about the plight of average people in our state. And how they are losing ground – particularly in terms of job opportunities – in this economic boom.
So we thought we would look at the most important indicators of our economy in this article. We decided “job growth” was the most important one, so we decided to take a look at total employment in that regard.
In general, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s data on the number of employed in the U.S. is the most important indicator of economic growth.
Total employment is the total number of employees in an economy. A chart of the total number of employed is called “the seasonally adjusted employment report.”
The BLS publishes this data monthly.
We did find some interesting facts in total employment. In the first quarter of 2009, total employment was up a little over 17k (0.9%). In the second quarter of 2009, total employment was actually down a bit – down 0.7%. Since then, the unemployment rate is down 6.8k (3.1%). The BLS also reports the percent change in total employment in terms of the number of new employees:
From quarter to quarter (quarterly seasonally adjusted), the total employment grew slightly (0.8%).
However, this is not to say that the economy was doing well or that the unemployment rate was actually at its lowest level in 10 years or that people were making enough money to send to grandma.
What we see is the BLS report that covers the first five months of 2009, which is the most recent report we have on total employment (February 2009 through January 2010). The last five months of 2009 are actually the most recent five months for which data is available on the total number of employed.