Last week, Gov. Bill Richardson’s office once again trumpeted the results of the year-old federal stimulus. And once again, selective numbers exaggerated the policy’s positive effect. The state Department of Workforce Solutions tracks employment by occupation, industry and location. Using Workforce figures, the following two charts show that overall employment (excluding agriculture) has fallen dramatically over the past few years. Meanwhile, state and local educational employment has remained flat—climbing slightly, but not fast enough to keep pace with New Mexico’s population growth.
This might seem to support Recovery Office Director and former Gov. Toney Anaya’s contention that the economy would be much worse without the $3.6 billion in stimulus money allocated to New Mexico by Congress and President Barack Obama. Anaya and congressional staff have told SFR another stimulus isn’t likely forthcoming. What is certainly coming, however, is yet another round of education budget cuts—including $7 million to Santa Fe Public Schools. School board members last week approved a drastic measure to close that gap. Three schools will be closed, but no layoffs have been announced—yet. Districts elsewhere in the state have begun to announce layoffs in the hundreds, which will change the upward curve of that blue line below.