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UNEMPLOYMENT RATES SOAR IN SAN JUAN COUNTY

 

October 13, 2017



San Juan County suffers nearly twice the unemployment rate at 7.7% of the national rate of 4.4%. Farmington, at 7.4%, fares slightly better than Aztec and Bloomfield at 8.2%. Of course, the oil/gas industry has been hardest hit, but that in turn affects many peripheral and other businesses. If correct, these numbers are alarming, and they don’t even reflect those who don’t care to look for work or have given up.

To gather answers to the most germane questions regarding the unemployment dilemma, local governmental leaders and two business owners were contacted. They included: Aztec City Manager and Mayor, Aztec Commissioners, Aztec Community Development Director, Aztec Chamber of Commerce, Director of San Juan College Small Business Development Center. They were asked to answer an array of questions regarding the economy.

Josh Ray, Aztec City Manager, responded that a “lack of quality paying jobs, lack of affordable housing options, and lack of drive by employees” was a major unemployment factor. City Commissioner Sheri Rogers said, “I believe it is a fairly common opinion that the decline of demand for fossil fuels (for environmental and economic factors) has a large impact on our economy in San Juan County as a whole, including employment in the region. Those fossil fuels (oil and gas, coal) and the related industries have long been our main source of employment and tax income. With the varying opinions on the impact of these fuels to the environment, renewable energy is in the spotlight now and getting the most support leaving most of our local resource related industries in jeopardy.”

Regarding what governmental and non-profit entities can do to stimulate economic growth and development, Mr. Ray wrote, “We have opened the Aztec HUB to help potential businesses develop their business plans before they embark on the larger, more expensive market. We can continue to seek out qualified, energetic applicants that want to work and place them with employees that are looking to hire good workers.” Commissioner Rogers responded, “We are fortunate in our area to have a very active economic development organization (Four Corners Economic Development) comprised of leaders in many areas working together to find a solution to existing issues as well as develop and promote new industry and business and find ways to attract new industry and business to our area. We also have some very active and supportive legislators representing us both at the state level as well as the national level, all working to find solutions to economic issues. Unfortunately, this is not unique to our area or state, the economic struggles are very real all over our nation.”

As to why businesses fail, City Manager Ray stated, “I do not know. My thought is that business fails due to the quality of products, lack of marketing, and pricing themselves out of the buyers market.”

Commissioner Rogers responded, “I have never been a business owner so I don’t feel qualified to speak to why businesses fail. Listening to other leaders and business owners the reasons seem to vary. I hear having fewer customers due to the local economy to lacking a business plan or a clear understanding of business ownership are some reasons. Again, there are resources that can help with some of these issues but not everyone knows of them or thinks they need to investigate those resources. San Juan College has an outstanding Small Business Development Center but not everyone will go to them to see what assistance is available. The city of Aztec is also trying to be proactive and supportive of small business startups with the HUB and being involved with the Small Business Development Center as part of the HUB but getting people to participate can be a challenge.”

The TALON will pursue this topic on a regular basis. Readers and business owners are requested to contact us with your ideas, input and suggestions.

 

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