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Report shows county economic woes in early 2021

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The most recent economic data for Chaves County released by the state indicates that county businesses were still suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic early this year.

Matched taxable gross receipts for third-quarter of fiscal year 2021 — which are the months of January through March — decreased $12.53 million compared to the third quarter of 2020, according to reports released Monday by the New Mexico Economic Development Department.

Total matched taxable gross receipts for the county were $314.99 million for the third quarter of fiscal year 2021. They were $327.52 million for the third quarter of fiscal year 2020.

According to the state, matched taxable gross receipts are considered the best data for determining economic activity. The data matches tax payments made to the state with the individual taxpayer and its industry sector. The Economic Development Department also uses other sources to develop quarterly reports for the state and all 33 counties to help guide decisions by business leaders and policy-makers.

Statewide, third-quarter 2021 matched taxable gross receipts of $17.83 billion represented a decrease of $612.56 million compared to the same period for the prior year.

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In spite of those numbers, Economic Development Department officials said there were signs of renewed consumer optimism by March 2021 and a rebound in most industries by the end of the third quarter. One of the positive signs pointed to was that March 2021 statewide gross receipts of $6.4 billion were the highest monthly total since December 2019, when they were $6.8 billion. They also were the highest of any March total since 2008. For Chaves County, March 2021 gross receipts of about $140 million were the highest since June 2020.

“While we realize we have much work to do toward economic recovery, these reports clearly indicate that New Mexico is beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels in all economic sectors,” said Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes.

For Chaves County, 11 industry sectors saw growth for third-quarter 2021 compared to the same period for fiscal year 2020, while nine reported smaller gross receipts.

The biggest dollar increases were experienced by the retail sector ($23.74 million); the health care and social assistance sector ($2.57 million); and the administrative, support, waste management and remediation sector ($2.44 million).

The biggest dollar losses compared to third-quarter fiscal year 2020 were reported by construction ($21.71 million); the information sector ($7.2 million); and the professional, scientific and technical services sector ($7.12 million).

Oil and gas and other extraction industries had the largest percentage drop at 98%. Gross receipts for third-quarter 2021 were $111,106. For the same period in 2020, they were $5.3 million.

The report also included employment and wages data for the months of July through September 2020, or first-quarter 2021. Average employment by 1,906 businesses in the county for the period was 20,041, a 4.3% decrease from the same period for fiscal year 2020. Average wages were $734 a week, a 4.4% increase from the prior year.

Unemployment claims in the area remained high by the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, with about 2,100 new claims. Although that number is well below the peak of fourth-quarter 2020 when there were about 3,200 new claims, they are still much higher than pre-pandemic levels when they numbered about 250 per quarter.

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

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.