- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Six times as many people in New Mexico filed for unemployment insurance in July compared with the peak period of job losses during the Great Recession in 2009.

A report Wednesday from the accountability office of the Legislature shows 197,000 people filed for unemployment claims last month across New Mexico, up from 32,800 in June 2009. The state is home to about 2.1 million people.

The hospitality industry including hotels and restaurants has been hardest hit by the new economic crisis judging from unemployment claims, followed closely by the retail trade and health care industries. About one-fifth of the estimated workforce in the hospitality industry filed jobless claims.

Employment in retail and the oil fields may not return to previous levels at all, the report says.

The analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee warns that New Mexico may be slower to rebound economically than other states, citing the state’s experience in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

State labor officials can help by turning to effective, low-cost re-employment programs. States including New Mexico have found cost-effective results through programs that combine assessments of reemployment eligibility with referrals to training and job openings.

Unemployment rates have increased most dramatically in Lea County, where petroleum production dominates the economy, and in tourism-dependent Taos County.

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