300 jobs were lost in New Mexico between April 2008 and 2009 in the “other services” category, which includes political and advocacy jobs.
"Step away from the computer. Don’t just reply to the job postings. Get out there, meet people, volunteer, be an intern…"—George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management Career Services Director Margaret Gottlieb in a May 27 videocast about her new e-book, Jobs and Careers in Politics and Public Service.
A little more than a year ago, primary election results were in, and New Mexico's political sphere spun into high general-election gear. Not only did political parties and advocacy organizations register a record number of voters, but that sector created a significant number of jobs.
"The spike was barely noticeable in previous cycles, but [in 2008] it was very noticeable," economist Mark Boyd with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions tells SFR. "It was probably in the hundreds for Santa Fe, but in excess of 1,000 statewide."
Now comes the bounce back. New Mexico is reporting major job losses in the "other services" category, which includes car mechanics, clergy and election workers.
US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, for example, employed approximately 12 campaign workers during the general election cycle; now his campaign employs none in New Mexico, though some campaign employees found jobs in his Washington, DC office.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico was one of the political industry's largest employers in 2008, creating more than 300 jobs. Now the party employs four staff members.
"When we staff up in an election year, most of those jobs are entry-level field organizers, hourly canvassers, phone bankers and data-entry folks," DPNM Executive Director Josh Geise says. "The other thing to consider is a good half of those are non-New Mexico residents that come in and work, then leave."
Nonprofit advocacy groups also contributed to the boom. The Albuquerque-based nonpartisan Center for Civic Policy hired 10 people for part-time get-out-the-vote work between September and November. The national Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund hired 10 administrative staff and 40 canvassers for the election; currently it has no employees in New Mexico.
But as candidates begin to announce their intentions for the 2010 elections, these jobs may slowly return.
"I'm adding a couple of staff in the next couple of weeks," Geise says. "That process has started; it's just much slower. We'll add some field staff here; we'll add more communications staff towards the end of the year, but the bulk of that hiring won't happen until spring."