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County business activity declines at start of fiscal year

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The toll of the coronavirus pandemic on local businesses can be seen in Chaves County gross receipts taxes reports from July 1 to Sept. 30, the first quarter of the 2021 fiscal year.

The pandemic brought a slowdown to the economic boom the area and state were experiencing in 2019 before the coronavirus crisis hit in March, but first-quarter 2021 receipts were not that far below the average of quarterly activity in earlier years, according to information released Friday by economists with the New Mexico Economic Development Department.

The report for Chaves County showed that matched taxable gross receipts (MTGR) totaling $320.43 million were down $21.36 million compared to the first quarter of the previous year, or fiscal year 2020. The MTGR total also was down $27.6 million, or 8%, compared to fourth-quarter of fiscal year 2020, or April to June 2020.

The first quarter of fiscal year 2021 is considered the period the New Mexico economy as a whole experienced the severest impacts from business slowdowns and shutdowns, although 14 counties reported growth during that period, according to the EDD report.

The EDD economists also stated that matched taxable gross receipts (MTGR) are considered by state officials as the best indicator of business activity because they match companies’ reported receipts with their tax payments and can be categorized by industry.

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While the county was impacted significantly from July to September compared to the previous year, the report indicated the $320.34 million MTGR total for that period was not that far below the average for Chaves County during the previous 12 quarters. That average had been about $325 million.

Of 25 industry sectors identified in the report, all but six showed declines compared to first-quarter 2020. For the six that showed increases, only utilities and management services showed double-digit growth. Utilities increased by 14%, or $2.98 million. Management services gained 91%, or $107,073.

The biggest dollar decreases were reported by professional, technical and scientific services ($7.8 million); other service companies, besides public administration ($6.3 million); information companies ($4.4 million); and oil, gas and other extraction companies ($4.2 million).

The report also gives information about county unemployment filings and claims, which have remained high since late March.

Initial unemployment filings in the county were at about 160 for the week of Nov. 14. Ongoing unemployment insurance claims for the week of Nov. 16 were about 3,000.

Statewide, first-quarter 2021 matched taxable gross receipts of $16.94 billion were up slightly — by 1% or $228 million — compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020. They were down $1.72 billion compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.

Gross domestic product in the state also has seen a decrease. It was down 7%, or $7 billion, from fourth-quarter 2019 compared to fourth-quarter 2020, when it totaled $91.1 billion.

Initial unemployment claims in New Mexico for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 were at 60,000. That compares to claims of 10,000 or less from the second quarter of fiscal 2019 to the second quarter of fiscal year 2020. But the 60,000 number was significantly less than the fourth-quarter of fiscal year 2020, when they totaled more than 110,000.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.