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A Tale of Two Policy Models

Job-creation in the region is surging again — excluding California and New Mexico, of course.

There are dozens of ways to measure the health of a state economy. One of the Southwest Public Policy Institute’s favorites is to follow the six-month trend in employment. Is the total number of jobs rising, falling or treading water? Using federal data, we track all eight states of the American Southwest.

A few months ago, there was cause for worry. Colorado had started to lose jobs. Ditto California, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Texas and Arizona were in danger of joining the list of laggards.

But there’s good news — yesterday’s release of December data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the overall trend is improving. Arizona’s growth rate has picked up, for three months in a row. Utah’s job-creation is back to its usual strength. Texas is making a solid rebound. Colorado’s dip has slowed to a crawl. And Oklahoma is growing again.

Nevada continues to be a concern, but the Silver State remains in positive territory. Sadly, the same can’t be said for California and New Mexico. Each continues to shed jobs — for five months in a row, now.

Think it’s a coincidence, that the region’s bluest states are least able to generate employment opportunities for their residents?

By D. Dowd Muska

Dowd brings nearly 30 years of research and writing experience to the Institute. A veteran of several think tanks, he is an expert on government at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels.

Raised on an apple orchard in the Connecticut River Valley, D. Dowd Muska is a researcher, writer, editor, and commentator. His focus is the nexus of fiscal policy, economic development, and technology.

Mr. Muska is the author of numerous policy studies, and his writing has appeared in newspapers throughout the nation, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Detroit News, the Orlando Sentinel, the Cape Cod Times, the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Hartford Courant, the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Albuquerque Journal, the New Haven Register, and The Oklahoman. A graduate of The George Washington University, he lives in the Albuquerque metro area, but has started (very) early planning for a relocation to the Sierra Blanca in Lincoln County, New Mexico. He recently launched the Substack platform No Dowd About It.

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