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SPPI Employment Index: November-April

The good times roll on — how long can they last?

The Institute keeps tabs on our region’s job numbers over the previous six months. Friday, the federal government released state-level stats for April, and we’re happy to report that once again, the American Southwest posted stellar results.

Employment in all eight states grew, between March and April, with Oklahoma leading the way — an increase of 0.52 percent. Utah (0.49 percent) and Texas (0.39 percent) secured the second and third spots on the podium. Even deeply troubled California added jobs.

But here’s something to be really excited about. Eight states multiplied by six months yields a total of 48 data points. And in the last half-year, 46 have been positive, with only California experiencing employment losses (November to December and January to February). Mighty impressive.

Jobless rates weren’t perfect, but there’s still a lot to like. Arizona deserves special notice, because its April unemployment figure was the best since the Bureau of Labor Statistics data set began — in 1976. At 3.4 percent, the Grand Canyon State was right at the national average. Utah, Colorado, and Oklahoma fared better. New Mexico was slightly worse, with Texas (4.0 percent), California (4.5 percent) and worst-in-the-nation Nevada (5.4 percent) bringing up the rear.

Despite ample reasons for angst about the national economy, the American Southwest’s job-creation engine is running at near-maximum efficiency. Can the trend continue? We’ll let you know in a month.

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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