Quay County's 5.3-percent unemployment rate for April, the lowest reading recorded in nearly four years, is likely due to the addition of 20 part-tme jobs at the new Kodiak Produce facility in Tucumcari, preparation for the tourist season, and some new highway construction projects on Interstate 40 in the county, state and local sources agree.
Tracy Shaleen, an economist with the state Department of Workforce Solutions, said Quay's employment pattern this year mirrors the pattern across the state. April is one of the lowest unemployment months, he said, largely because warming weather signals launching of construction projects.
Patrick Vanderpool, director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp., said increased activity in area motels and restaurants as tourist traffic picks up would explain some of the decrease in unemployment. He also said highway construction projects have begun as well.
Quay County Manager Richard Primrose was pleased to notice more people working in Quay County.
"It's great to know more people are working so they can afford to buy necessities," he said. From the county government's point of view, he said, more activity is likely to bring in more gross receipts-tax revenues.
Primrose, too, said new highway construction probably accounts for much of the decrease in unemployment, but not on county roads.
New Mexico Dept. of Transportation Project Engineer David Gonzales said there are three road reconditioning projects going on Interstate 40 between San Jon and the Texas state line, employing about 100 people.
The projects are located between Bard and Endee, between San Jon and Bard, and just east of Tucucmari, Gonzales said.