It was 2007, and Joshua Burns had just moved back to New Mexico to start a family in the “booming” film industry.
Except, as the Columbia University graduate found out, he couldn’t even find a job holding a boom microphone.
“I got here and found out that there still isn’t a whole lot of production here,” he said. “I finally got a job with SunCal, but then they went out of business.”
Since then, he’s been out of work for a year. Originally from Santa Fe, Burns is just one face behind a statewide statistic: New Mexico’s unemployment rate is 8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But two labor groups hope their initiative will put New Mexicans back to work.
Local divisions Working America and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) banded together to create New Mexico Wants to Work, a support group whose mission is to combat state unemployment.
The group held its first meeting Feb. 23 and provides resources to make job-hunting easier, said Chelsey Evans, state director of Working America. She said it’s important that workers are versed about their rights.
“A lot of workers feel alone,” she said. “It’s hard to find to resources you need. We want to help folks with needs and services, but we also want to be a coalition to tell these stories.”
Evans said the organizations created programs in five states around the country.
Burns is just one of many who are receiving aid from the support group. He said he is optimistic it will help him land a job if the state continues to invest in the film industry. Gov. Susana Martinez outlined a plan to reduce the state’s film subsidies by 10 percent, which could impact workers in the industry.
But if he has it his way, Burns said, he prefers to stay in his home state as long as he can find work.
“I love it here,” he said. “I miss the weather and the food, and my mom is out here.”