Note: This story originally appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Construction jobs in New Mexico in November reached 50,000 for the first time since March 2009, largely through the oil boom in the state’s southeast corner and the industrial boom near El Paso.
New Mexico had the 17th highest growth rate in construction jobs with a 6.2 percent gain in November over the prior year, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
Statewide construction job growth exceeded the 5 percent growth in the biggest city, Albuquerque, in a state that added only 2,200 people to its population in the past year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
New Mexico also was one of 23 states to add jobs from October to November, which was the first month this year where fewer than half the states added construction jobs month-to-month, AGC noted.
New Mexico still has a way to go to reach its all-time peak, between 59,000 and 60,000 in 2006-08. New Mexico’s construction job growth rate in November also falls behind fellow Western states Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada at first, second and third, respectively, on the AGC chart, and Oregon and Montana further down in the top 10.
New Mexico, however, is ahead of Utah, California, Washington and Idaho.
The construction industry is feasting on the oil and natural gas boom in Hobbs, Carlsbad, Artesia, Lea County and Eddy County, and even more across the state line in Texas. Construction also is vigorous in support of the industrial boom in Santa Teresa and the Mexican border, said Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the International Business Accelerator in Santa Teresa.
Pacheco said eight to 10 oil companies are investing some $1 billion in southeast New Mexico. Housing projects also are underway in Hobbs in Carlsbad.
“You have a pipeline being built there,” he said.
But Pacheco said construction also is abundant in Santa Teresa’s four industrial parks. Stampede Meat is moving into a former Tyson Foods plant.
New 120,000-square-foot, 140,000-square-foot and 100,000-square-foot industrial buildings are getting built in Santa Teresa and a 183,000-square-foot structure is in permitting, Pacheco said.
“We don’t have any space available,” Pacheco said. “We’re looking for contractors to build industrial spec space right now.”
Santa Teresa also is converting a 12-mile stretch of Pete V. Domenici Highway from asphalt to concrete and widening Airport Road from two to four lanes, and converting the surface from asphalt to concrete, Pacheco said.