46,000 is the number of nonfarm jobs New Mexico has lost since 2008.

2015  is the year by which those jobs are expected to be regained.

It’s hard for a general economy to recover unless people go back to work, and that’s just not happening.—Tom Pollard, economist with the New Mexico Legislative Council Service

New Mexico's economy—and the US economy as a whole—is not growing fast enough to substantially reduce unemployment, Pollard tells SFR.

"We've got people that are on food stamps that are still 40 percent above recession levels," he says.

With help from the Legislative Finance Committee, Pollard released an economic summary this month that alludes to a long, painful road ahead. While increased business-to-business sales in 2009 and 2010 suggest the economy is rebounding, job creation hasn't followed that lead, according to the report.

The result is the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, and current projections aren't looking good. In May 2009, New Mexico's manufacturing and services sectors saw an increase in new orders, suggesting a rebound.But business-to-business sales stalled this summer—as did consumer confidence.

A University of Michigan survey suggests nationwide consumer spending is slumping back to 2008 levels. That troubles Pollard because consumer spending makes up 70 percent of the economy.

If businesses aren't adding workers and investments, "people have to believe things are going to be better" for any type of recovery to happen, Pollard says.

Another reason for the slow recovery is the troubled construction industry, which in the past has led the way for rebounds, especially during the real estate booms of the mid-2000s, Pollard says. Construction simply hasn't recovered from the real estate collapse of 2007, which paved the way for the recession. Pollard doesn't expect a boom for the industry anytime soon, if ever.

Nationally, economic growth for the first two quarters of 2011 was 0.4 percent and 1.3 percent respectively smaller than the 2 percent to 4 percent that Pollard says is needed. But he's not going far enough to forecast the "double-dip" recession that so many fear. "We're just barely growing at this point," he says.