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New Mexico’s unemployment rate now exceeds national rate


6:39 pm EDT, Saturday, August 22, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s jobless rate has jumped to 12.7%, the highest rate for the state since the coronavirus pandemic began in the U.S. in March.

The unemployment rate is up from 8.4% in June, reversing a steady downward trend since April, when the rate was 11.3%, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 10.2% in July, down from 11% in June.

All major sectors in New Mexico experienced year-to-year job losses, the state Department of Workforce Solutions said in a statement. Industries like leisure and hospitality reported the biggest employment losses.

State Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said the main reason behind the state’s unemployment rate increase came from temporary furloughs for workers that became layoffs as the pandemic persisted.

The Albuquerque metropolitan area reported an unemployment rate of 13.1% in July. The Santa Fe area reported a rate of 13.5%, Las Cruces’ figure was 13% and Farmington had a rate of 16%, officials said.

In other developments,

— State officials on Saturday reported 213 additional COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths, increasing New Mexico’s totals to 24,302 cases and 743 deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Mexico decreased over the past two weeks while the rolling average of deaths was nearly unchanged.

The rolling average for new cases decreased from 198 new cases on Aug. 7 to 138 on Aug. 21, while the rolling average for deaths was just under 5 on Aug. 7 and just over 5 on Aug. 21.

— Albuquerque officials now can question out-of-state visitors and people with out-of-state license plates whether they’re obeying New Mexico’s quarantine rules, but the city hasn’t used that power, Mayor Tim Keller said.

Keller described the new authority during a recent news conference announcing he was signing a new emergency order, KOAT-TV reported.

If out-of-state visitors haven’t quarantined for the generally required 14 days, “we would pass on their information to the Department of Health,” Keller said.

The city hasn’t had to use the power, Keller said.

“But if we do, we could look at more severe actions like not allowing people to enter facilities unless they can demonstrate they have been here for 14 days. But these are measures we wanted to have in place if things got worse or got worse moving forward,” he said.

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