Created: 08/05/2014 5:50 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Eyewitness News 4 broke the story last week – New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez proposing to re-impose work requirements for thousands of people receiving food stamp benefits. But the latest unemployment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show work is getting harder and harder to find in our state.
The Gobs of Jobs fair in Albuquerque drew hundreds Tuesday at the Marriott “Pyramid” Hotel - people looking for jobs in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The state’s workforce grew from 922,200 in May to 931,400 in June. 67,900 New Mexico were unemployed in June, up from 54,700 in May. The numbers come right in time for the Martinez administration’s plan to bring back work and job training and community service requirements for people on food stamps.
“Food stamps are for emergency purposes,” said Calvin Beckwith, who spoke up while looking for a new job at the Gobs of Jobs event. “At some point you’ve really got to dust yourself off, get back up, get back in gear, get motivated and get back out there in the work force.” Beckwith admits he has a “pretty wide” resume in sales and security. But Tanya Velarde, at the same event for the same reason, said she is already doing community service to qualify for TANF benefits she needs for herself and her seven month old son Julius.
“I’m going to be having to make time and find babysitters for him, someone to watch over him. More and more hours to look forward to receive those benefits.”
“We don’t want people to starve,” said Matt Kennicott of the state Human Services Department, which runs the food stamp or “SNAP” benefits program. “We want to keep continuing to provide them with the assistance they need and we’re going to provide them with the assistance to help them find jobs and help them get the on-the-job training they want.”
The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Albuquerque’s unemployment rate soaring to 7.6 percent in June, up from 6.1 percent in May. Las Cruces jumped to 8 percent unemployed, up from 6.7 percent in May. Farmington ‘s jobless rate climbed to 7.4 percent from 5.7 percent, and Santa Fe rose to 5.8 percent unemployed from 4.5 percent in May. The statewide unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in June, up from 5.9 percent in May. Those numbers do not include people who have given up looking for work, or those who have moved to other states in search of jobs.