Economic Impact 2023: Los Alamos National Laboratory spent $930 million with New Mexico businesses, $1.8 billion in employee salaries

January 31, 2024

Economic Impact 2023

Los Alamos National Laboratory released its annual Economic Impact Report detailing spending during fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30. With an annual budget of $4 billion, the Laboratory is a major economic driver in the state.

“Los Alamos National Laboratory plays a critical role in New Mexico’s economy and its communities,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “We feel strongly that it is our responsibility as a significant employer in New Mexico to support the places where we live and work.”

Statistics from the report detail procurement dollars, employee salaries by county, small business assistance, labor union membership and more. 

Three key takeaways in the report are: 

  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory is one of the largest employers in the state and a major economic driver in the region.
  2. In 2023, the Lab employed a record number of employees — 15,932 — who earned $1.8 billion in salaries.
  3. The Laboratory spent over $930 million with New Mexico businesses and paid $155 million in New Mexico gross receipts tax.

Employee salaries stimulate the regional economy

The Laboratory has been increasing the size of its staff over the past few years and has now hit its stride with the pace of hiring leveling off. While the total number of regular Laboratory employees reached 15,932 in 2023, the Lab also employed 1,133 contractors. Of the 15,932 regular employees, 29% have at least one degree from a New Mexico college or university and 40% are native New Mexicans. 

Over 65% of our employees live outside of Los Alamos County, benefitting their home communities. 

Employee salaries by county: 

  • Los Alamos: $758 million 
  • Santa Fe: $461 million
  • Rio Arriba: $201 million
  • Bernalillo: $105 million
  • Sandoval: $73 million
  • Taos: $24 million
  • Other: $31 million 

Contracting results in business growth and sustainability

“Part of being a force for good in the business community is prioritizing spending with New Mexico businesses, particularly small businesses,” said Brooks Baldwin, Acquisition Services Management division leader. “In FY23, the Laboratory spent $931 million with New Mexico businesses, and of the $1.1 billion we spent with small business nationwide, 56% or $616 million were spent here at home with New Mexico small businesses.”

The $616 million is further divided into categories established by the U.S. Department of Energy, such as small and disadvantaged business contracts, which totaled $232 million and exceeded the Lab’s expectations by almost 15%. 

Native American contracts totaled almost $130 million, 6.22% of the total; contracts with veteran-owned businesses totaled $61 million; women-owned small business contracts reached $48 million; and regional HUBZone — a Small Business Administration program that provides contracting assistance to small businesses located in economically distressed communities — reached almost $18 million.

The Laboratory contracts with a variety of businesses offering an array of goods and services. Examples are Performance Maintenance Inc. (PMI), a janitorial and supply company serving Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties for 29 years, and Santa Fe-based Wildflower International, suppliers of computers and technology solutions. 

“Our current large contract has afforded us the ability to expand our business,” said Eric Quintana, chief executive officer of PMI. “We’ve also been able to offer more competitive wages to our employees.”

Small businesses can be vulnerable to economic shifts, and government contracting is often a source of stability and growth for both the business and the surrounding economy. 

“The U.S. Department of Energy is at the cornerstone of Wildflower’s history,” said Kimberly deCastro, CEO of the 32-year-old business. “It was the company’s first customer and remains its most important.” 

Free scientific expertise and technology sharing helps budget-strapped businesses expand

In addition to contracting, the Laboratory supports business growth through mentorship and technology sharing. In FY23, Laboratory-supported programs with New Mexico Small Business Assistance:

  • Conducted 206 projects with 212 New Mexico small businesses 
  • Attracted $51 million in new financing 
  • Created or retained 985 non-Laboratory jobs with salaries totaling $60 million 

Triad National Security also supports small business as part of the $3 million Community Commitment Plan, which includes support of the Regional Development Corporation providing programs in workforce training and business expansion to communities and Native American pueblos in Northern New Mexico.