Industrial employment in New Mexico fell 5.2 percent over the past 12 months according to the 2010 New Mexico Manufacturers Register, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers' News Inc. MNI reports New Mexico lost 3,040 industrial jobs between January 2009 and January 2010, the sharpest decline MNI has ever reported in the 13 years it has been tracking the state's industry.

Manufacturers' News reports New Mexico is now home to 2,139 manufacturers employing 55,069 workers.

"As with the entire nation, the recession has affected New Mexico's core sectors," says Tom Dubin, President of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company, which has been surveying industry since 1912. "However, the state's investments in green technologies should help lay the groundwork for recovery."

According to MNI, the paper products sector saw the worst decline in employment, down 35.7 percent, due mostly to the closure of Solo Cup's Belen facility. Employment in primary metals fell 18.5 percent following layoffs at Chino Mines due to the falling price of copper.

Electronics manufacturing remains the state's largest industrial sector by employment with 7,864 jobs, down 1.3 percent over the year. Food products ranks second with 5,662 jobs, down 4.8 percent. Third-ranked industrial machinery & equipment accounts for 5,512 jobs, down 1.9 percent over the year.

Most of New Mexico's manufacturing sectors lost jobs over the year and included furniture/fixtures, down 15.9 percent; printing/publishing, down 12.5 percent; fabricated metals, down 11.4 percent; textiles, down 8 percent; chemicals, down 7.7 percent; transportation equipment, down 7.1 percent; lumber/wood, down 6 percent; and rubber/plastics, down 3.4 percent.

Bright spots over the year included the planned opening of Solar Distinction, which will employ 300 to 500 workers to manufacture solar panels, and the opening of German company Schott Solar's photovoltaic plant in Albuquerque. In addition, building materials maker ParexLahabra announced the opening of a new dry materials plant, also in Albuquerque.

Southwest New Mexico saw the largest decline in manufacturing employment, down 14.9 percent, and now accounts for 5,113 of the state's jobs. Industrial employment declined 9.4 percent in Northeast New Mexico, with the region home to 3,840 manufacturing jobs. Southeast New Mexico accounts for 10,005 of the state's jobs, down 5.2 percent, while Northwest New Mexico accounts for 35,831, down 3.9 percent over the past 12 months.

Albuquerque remains the state's top city by industrial employment with 19,564 manufacturing jobs, down 4.1 percent over the year. Rio Rancho accounts for 6,416 jobs, with no significant change reported. Farmington saw employment increase 1.1 percent and is currently home to 4,567 industrial workers, while Hobbs accounts for 2,886 of the state's jobs, up 6.7 percent over the year. Fifth-ranked Santa Fe accounts for 2,349 jobs, down 12.6 percent over the past 12 months.