Spanish settlers, who first arrived in the region that is now New Mexico in the 1600s, set up a self-sufficient farming and ranching economy. Because of the dry climate, most settlements were along the rivers. No major economic change occurred until after the completion, in 1879, of the region’s first railroad. In the next few decades cattle ranching grew on a large scale. The mining of gold, silver, and other minerals became important, and agriculture spread to newly irrigated land as more settlers moved to the region. A new aspect was added to the economy when the Los Alamos National Laboratory, established in 1943, developed the world’s first atomic bomb.
This, along with other military and United States Department of Energy establishments, stimulated the growth of associated private industry.
New Mexico had a work force of 919,000 people in 2008. The largest share of the workers—42 percent—held jobs in the service industries, including occupations catering to tourists or doing such work as computer programming or serving in restaurants. Another 20 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 23 percent by federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 7 percent in construction; 17 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 4 percent in manufacturing; 3 percent in farming (including agricultural services) or forestry; and 2 percent in mining. In 2007, 8 percent of New Mexico’s workers were members of a union. "New Mexico" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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