announced on Aug. 6.
14,200 is the number of jobs lost in New Mexico between June 2009 and June 2010.
" Private job growth has returned… [W]e are coming back."—US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in an Aug. 2 New York Times op-ed titled, “Welcome to the Recovery”
On Aug. 2, in an optimistic op-ed for The New York Times, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner heralded the beginning of the end of the recession. His timing was abysmal: Four days later, on Aug. 6, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announced significant job losses that prompted dire economic forecasts.
“I heard it on the radio—131,000 jobs lost,” Richard, a tall, blue-eyed man, tells SFR. He’s been unemployed for seven months—the first time in his life he hasn’t had a job. He heard the job news on his pre-dawn drive from Los Alamos to the unemployment office in Santa Fe, where he took up a post outside the front door at 6 am, two hours before opening time.
“I came at 8 am yesterday, and they wouldn’t take me!” an older man named Hugh interjects.
The other people in line nod knowingly. Show up after 8 am, when the line begins to curl around the back of the building, and a Department of Workforce Solutions employee will likely tell you to come back earlier the next day. On July 30, Workforce Solutions announced that it would extend unemployment benefits until this November.
“Since that letter went out,” a former census worker named Evelyn says, “there’s been lines and lines and lines.”
Hugh says the online system keeps rejecting his PIN, and Richard is here because he used up his cell phone minutes trying to use the department’s call-in system.
“If you try to call on your phone, you can’t get through,” he says. He estimates he’s applied for 120 jobs in the past six months. “It’s not for lack of trying,” he says.
Santa Fe County currently has 5,331 unemployed residents seeking work, according to Workforce Solutions spokeswoman Joy Forehand. At 6.7 percent, the county’s unemployment rate is lower than both state (8.2 percent) and federal (9.5 percent) rates, but unemployment offices are just as swamped here as they are across the nation.
“They need to hire more people,” Evelyn says without a trace of irony.