Holloman Air Force Base, Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center and Alamogordo Public Schools are among the largest employers in Otero County.
This means that Otero County – also up to see an increase in the medical and recreational cannabis industry – has a varied labor market.
The latest unemployment data showed that Otero County had an unemployment rate of 4.8%, lower than the state-wide percentage of 5.2%, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
Unemployment in New Mexico peaked at 13.4% in July 2020 as the state battled the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed public health orders that affected local, regional and state economies.
Regulations affecting businesses in New Mexico were reduced in 2021, allowing businesses to reopen. However, the economic recovery was slow, officials said as employees stayed home, leaving countless jobs in the region vacant.
Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center was challenged by a need for medical staff and fatigue among its current staff.
Spokeswoman for the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, Lillie Lewis, said the presence of crisis nurses was somewhat eased, which softened the nurses’ turnover.
“We started receiving crisis nurses in November,” Lewis said. “It’s been a help, but it’s just an area of nursing. Nursing is part of running an organization that is so big.”
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She said the lack of support staff – unit secretaries, food service, patient registration, housekeeping, nursing assistants and office staff – increased the challenge.
“I think there were about 12 to 13 people in briefing on Monday (January 3) who were new hires,” Lewis said. “We are constantly working on filling other positions. It is a bit difficult to find the applicants we are looking for.”
Lewis said the shortage of nurses, pre-pandemic, was irritated by long working hours, safety concerns and health mandates, including required vaccinations from the state of New Mexico.
At the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center, there has been a drop in COVID-19 cases at the hospital since mid-December, Lewis said.
As of January 7, there have been 9,535 positive COVID-19 cases in Otero County, 148 deaths were attributed to COVID-19. Over 8,000 were reported recovered from the virus since data collection began in March 2020, according to the New Mexico Department of H
Across the country, New Mexico has had 369,113 positive COVID-19 cases reported with 5,983 deaths attributed to COVID-19. There have been 315,606 reported recoveries of COVID-19 since March 2020, per. January 7, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.
Ultra Health is a New Mexico-based manufacturer of medical cannabis with facilities and 30 pharmacies throughout New Mexico, including a pharmacy and a hemp farm in Tularosa.
“We were able to understand the different labor markets and compared to the urban markets. We have found that many employees in the Alamogordo area are very motivated, very energetic to work, especially when considering a career in cannabis,” Ultra Health said spokeswoman Marissa Novel.
“Cannabis can be another form of opportunity for the right person. It can be more rewarding work. It can also be potential for upward mobility in an organization for leadership positions.”
It’s easier to get into the legal cannabis industry now, Novel said because of the industry’s news. Even if an applicant has no or much experience in horticulture or agriculture, the applicant can do well in the legal cannabis industry, Novel said.
“We’ve had great success at Alamogordo, especially considering that our starting salary organizationally is now $ 15 an hour,” Novel said. “We committed to starting our payroll at $ 15 an hour the first of the year, which is 30% higher than New Mexico’s minimum wage. We believe it will attract dedicated applicants.”
New Mexico began the second phase of phasing in a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour on Jan. 1 by raising wages to $ 11.50 an hour, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
Ultra Health, which is poised to become one of the largest employers in Otero County by opening a facility on La Velle Road that will employ 200 to 300 people within its first year of operation, said Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez in August 2021 during a tour of the facility.
More:Ultra Health cannabis company moves into the former Western Baking facility in Otero County
Holloman Air Force Base
About 20 miles south of Alamogordo is Holloman Air Force Base.
Holloman Air Force Base has openings for both funded and non-funded positions. Granted funded positions are funded by Congressional allocations. Unauthorized fund positions are paid based on the amount of money generated by the company in which they work.
“We’re still hiring people, but we have areas where we have a harder area to fill the unapproved fund positions,” said Holloman Air Force Base Civilian Personnel Flight Chief Elva Chavez. “Some of the child development positions, household positions, even the chefs. These are the type of positions we have the hardest time filling.”
More:Get your foot in the door: Holloman Air Force Base is holding a job fair on August 24th
Chavez said the occupation of jobs was slow but stable and recruitment continued.
Alamogordo Public Schools
Alamogordo Public Schools made offers to 31 potential employees after a job fair held before the winter break.
“There may be a ‘big resignation’ going on, but we’re kind of an anomaly here,” said Alamogordo Public Schools Superintendent Kenneth Moore. “I think people leave a place where they do not feel valued or are overburdened and go to places that they hear about and that value their employees.”
Moore said employees may be attracted to Alamogordo Public Schools because the education sector offers job security.
“We are doing everything we can to support our teachers and all of our staff,” Moore said.
Alamogordo Public Schools used alternative teaching license as a tool for staff. The alternative teaching license program through the New Mexico Public Education Department allows those who have a degree “in a non-traditional teaching area and want to” fast-track “in teaching,” according to the New Mexico Public Education Department.
Nicole Maxwell can be contacted via email at email@example.com, by phone at 575-415-6605 or on Twitter at @nicmaxreporter.