New Mexico' 10-year slog of recovering from the recession finally appears to be having some positive results in that the number of state residents and food stamps and Medicaid are falling.
Those two assistance programs for low-income people are one indicator of how good or bad an economy is doing, and they show that the state's economy is improving.
The number of people on food stamps fell by 14 percent in the year that ended August 30, and the number of Medicaid recipients has fallen by 6 percent since they peaked this past March.
Here are the numbers:
The number of people on food stamps peaked at 541,769 in September of 2016. As of August, there were 464,102 people on food stamps.
The number of Medicaid recipients peaked in March at 908,750, or 43.6 percent of the state's population. As of September, the Medicaid rolls had fallen to 854,426, according to the New Mexico Human Services Department.
Nationally, the number of people on food stamps has fallen considerably since it peaked at 47.4 million in October of 2013. As of this past July, there were 41.2 million food stamp recipients, a 13 percent reduction.
Part of that reduction was due to work rules that states had waived during the recession, but then reinstated when their economies improved. According
Under the program, working-age adults without children can receive benefits for three months in three years. After that time limit, they must work at least 80 hours per month or participate in an education or job training program for that same amount of time.
States were allowed to temporarily waive the three-month time limit when their unemployment rates rose, and many of them did during the recession.
But as their economies improved and their unemployment rates fell, the states were required by federal law to drop those waivers.
New Mexico dropped its waiver in December 2016
While New Mexico's economy has experienced a “lost decade,” it has been adding jobs. In the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, New Mexico added 6,800 jobs, for a 0.9 percent growth rate.
But as of September, the state still had not reached its pre-recession jobs level. Jobs in the state peaked at 849,900 in February of 2008. As of September, the state had 838,500 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.