The State of Working New Mexico 2014

In the past two decades a momentous shift has taken place within our workforce. New Mexico’s labor force, which in 1990 was dominated by workers in their prime working age (those aged 25 to 54), now has a much more significant role for workers over age 55. This is to be expected as our population ages. At the same time, the share of younger workers in the workforce has fallen. Although some of that is undoubtedly due to the Great Recession, the share of younger workers in the workforce did not rise during the economic expansion of the early 2000s. What’s more, it is common for youth under age 25 to enroll in college in higher rates when the demand for young labor is low, but that was not the case during the recession.

Inclusion in the workforce is an important rite of passage for young people: finding a job carries with it the possibility of living independently and starting a family. Failure to join the labor force can cause significant stress, both to the young workers themselves and to their parents. This report will discuss the labor force performance of teenagers and young workers both over time, and will compare conditions in New Mexico to other states in the mountain west region.