By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Quay County ranked 27th of the 33 New Mexico counties in job creation from 2010 to 2013 in a New Mexico State University economist’s study that showed New Mexico as last among the 50 states in job creation.
Quay County ranked 16th in job creation last year.
All of Quay County’s workforce change numbers were negative, meaning Quay County’s rankings are based on job losses rather than job creation.
Statewide, the labor force grew less than 1 percent during the most recent three-year period, from Jan. 1, 2011 through Nov., 30, 2013, according to data provided to The Santa Fe New Mexican by Christopher Erickson, an economist at New Mexico State University. Erickson also provided county numbers to the Quay County Sun.
The state’s dismal showing has spurred state legislators to sponsor measures that include:
• $10 million for a discretionary closing fund to draw projects through the Local Economic Development Act.
• $2 million for a Cooperative Marketing program, which will allow participants in the certified cities program to hire additional people to help regions focus economic growth in targeted fields.
• $1.5 million for New Mexico Partnership to expand for outreach and marketing.
• $1.5 million for the Job Training Incentive Program to make it permanent.
• $250,000 to develop and test a job-creation program focused on solo workers who work on contract for firms around the United States.
• $200,000 for certified business incubators.
In the county breakdown, Quay County’s low ranking among the counties in performance since 2010 was based on a 2.8 decline in the workforce over that period. Last year’s 16th place rating was based on a 1.6 percent decline between 2012 and 2013.
Among neighboring counties:
• San Miguel ranked 12th since 2010 with a 2.7 increase in workforce, but 26th in last year’s rankings, based on a 2.5 percent decrease.
• Guadalupe County ranked 13th since 2010 with 2.6 percent growth, and second in the state last year with a 1.3 percent increase.
• Union County ranked 22nd in labor force change since 2010 with a 1.3 percent decline. Last year, Union ranked 24th with a 2 percent decline.
• Curry County ranked 15th in performance since 2010 and from last year with rates of 1.4 percent increase and 1.2 percent decrease, respectively.
• DeBaca County ranked 31st among the counties in performance since 2010 with a 5.6 percent decline, but seventh last year with a 0.7-percent decline.
New Mexico State Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Logan), whose district includes Quay County and Colfax County, which ranked 28th (-3.9-percent workforce change) in performance since 2010, said he has met with Gov. Susana Martinez to talk about job losses in northeast New Mexico and advocate for more support for small businesses in the area.
Roch said he is co-sponsoring House Bill 116, which would ensure that Amtrak’s Southwest Chief passenger train keeps its stop in Raton. He also said he is supporting continued funding for the New Mexico Mainstreet initiative, which works to revitalize downtown areas in Tucumcari, Raton, Clayton, Portales, Clovis, and other New Mexico communities.
Roch said he continues to support the Job Training Incentive Program, which offers businesses incentives for hiring and training new employees, which, Roch said, offers great potential for other towns in northeastern New Mexico. JTIP has supported training at the Southwest Cheese Factory between Clovis and Portales, he said.
In addition, Roch said, he has urged Martinez and the New Mexico Racing Commission to issue a sixth racetrack/casino license, which could be located in Raton or Tucumcari, although contenders from other parts of the state have expressed interest.