New Mexico sees increase in jobless rate, highest in nation

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, job applications and information for the Gap Factory Store sit on a table during a job fair at Dolphin Mall in Miami. Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week of Aug. 2016, another sign the U.S. job market remains healthy despite a downshift in hiring in August. The Labor Department says the number of applications for jobless aid slid by 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 259,000, lowest since mid-July. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico’s unemployment rate went up in February, ensuring the state would again have the country’s highest percentage of unemployed workers.

Statistics released by state and federal officials on Friday show that New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in February, up from 6.7 percent in January.

The national unemployment rate is 4.7 percent.

Only Alaska and Alabama have jobless rates in the six-percent range.

Reports indicate that government jobs declined by 500 positions. State leaders have often said New Mexico depends too heavily on government jobs.

The downturn in the oil and gas industry has also negatively affected the job rate.