Lack of jobs forces locals to flee

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham leaves the stage after her victory speech for U.S. Congress at the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown Albuquerque on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2014. (Mia Clark/NM News Port)

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Lack of jobs forces locals to flee

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Mike Frese could not agree more about the state of jobs in New Mexico.

Frese’s sons grew up in New Mexico, but went to college on the East Coast. After graduation, they were able to find jobs and start their families in Maryland.

“I’m in favor of people who grow up in this state being able to go to school at the University of New Mexico or go to school at New Mexico State and live here. Live out their lives and have their families here and stay with their families here,” Frese said.

Lujan Grisham, on the other hand, has two daughters who have considered leaving the state.

“I have two daughters. They’re grown. One’s an engineer, one’s still in school. The younger one lives with me (in New Mexico), thank goodness, but she’s a reflection of how hard it is to get started and how expensive it is to get an education. I want to fix that.”

The two candidates disagree, however, on how to create job growth.

Lujan Grisham favors increasing the minimum wage while Frese feels that would hurt the economy, which could stunt job growth even more.

In a student-run debate on Twitter Oct. 23, Lujan Grisham said, “Raising min wage is another important action Congress can take to grow the economy. It will help both low wage workers and middle class New Mexicans. Increase will generate a total of $35 billion in increased wages for families.”

Frese countered by saying, “Raising min wage in NM is going to drive it further into recession, sending businesses to our competing states. I personally know a ton of young people that can’t get a job working more than 28 hrs/week, so they get 2 jobs.”

Find the complete debate on the NM News Port.

Data shows that New Mexico is falling behind its neighboring states in job growth.

The Atlantic Magazine lists New Mexico among the seven states people are leaving. It reports 3.6 percent per 1,000 people are leaving. These figures are from 2012.

Information from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions shows that from 2002-2012, New Mexico’s neighboring states, Texas, Arizona and Colorado have had 16.1, 10.6, and 9.5 percent job growth, respectively. In comparison, New Mexico’s had a 5.8 percent increase. However, New Mexico is above the national average, which is 4.4 percent.

The Washington Post reports the Lone Star state has been experiencing higher job growth than the rest of the U.S. They also lead in both job availability and pay level.

According to the website Department of Numbers, national unemployment sits at 5.9 percent. New Mexico sits a bit higher at 6.6 percent.

Lance Bernal, who was born and raised in New Mexico, left the state in 2002 for college in northern Colorado.

“I wanted to be different and I just kinda wanted to go out and see what else there was away from New Mexico. I had the opportunity to go out of state for school so I took that opportunity,” he said.

Bernal, however, was not willing to give up his state residency.

“I always wanted to come back to New Mexico. I’m not gonna lie. My roots are pretty deep here. No matter where I was gonna go, I always knew I’d come back to New Mexico. It’s where I wanted my family to be. Regardless of where I went, I was gonna come back.”

Bernal has struggled though. After spending five years in Colorado and three years in Texas, Bernal said finding a full time job in his field of wildlife biology has been difficult upon returning to NM.

On the other hand, Timothy Gomez, a former New Mexico resident, left his small town, Artesia, 14 years ago at the young age of 18.

“Wanted to experience different areas, I wanted to explore, I wanted to understand other options that existed outside where I grew up.”

Gomez was first introduced to the dairy industry in Tuscon, Arizona. From there, he went to his current home in Kansas City.

“Where I’m at today versus where I’d be in New Mexico. I think I’m much further along if I’d decided to stay. Much further along in my career, much further along in the things I’ve been able to experience, in the people I’ve been able to meet.”

The website Department of Numbers reported in Sept. 2014 that there were more than 816,000 people employed in New Mexico. Its peak was in February 2008 at 849,700 employed.

Gomez has moved around quite a bit, from Artesia, to Lubbock, back to Artesia, then to Tuscon; then back to NM, left to Indiana, went to Utah and now lives in Kansas City.

“I followed my opportunities throughout my entire career. I found that opportunities seemed to be more abundant elsewhere. I also realized that where I wanted to build my career and my life was not in New Mexico.”[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row]