NPR Story
11:15 am
Wed February 27, 2013

New Mexico's Economy Is Struggling, But Trade Growth Shines

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — New Mexico is growing its export market faster than any other state in the country, according to the International Trade Administration. Trade is the one bright spot in the state's struggling economy.

Governor Susana Martinez announced Tuesday that New Mexico's exports grew by a rapid 42 percent. In 2012 the state exported $3 billion in goods to countries around the world. Last year Israel was its biggest export market followed by Mexico.

New Mexico's total export number is still small compared to neighboring states like Arizona, which exported $18.4 billion last year. But, according to the governor's office, the state has made remarkable progress. Two years ago New Mexico ranked 38th in export growth, now it's number one.

New Mexico's economy was hurt more than most states since the recession. The state lost nearly 5,000 jobs last year, most of them government positions. The state is among the most dependent on federal dollars and could be further hurt by looming federal budgets cuts set to begin March 1.

Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said the private business sector is showing signs of modest growth. The Martinez administration is pushing a set of six bills in the state legislature they say will help boost private investment in the state. Most of them have to do with changing the state's tax laws.

New Mexico's most active trade industries are located around Albuquerque, its largest city, and in the southern part of the state near the U.S.-Mexico border.

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