Friday, April 21, 2017

Unemployment Rate Leadership Continues

In March New Mexico kept its leadership among the states in unemployment (seasonally adjusted), according to today’s release of wage job figures from federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s Department of Workforce Solutions reported the 6.7% unemployment rate in its news release, as it had to, but somehow overlooked New Mexico’s leading position.
The unemployment rate was down an insignificant tenth of a point from February and up an equally insignificant tenth of a point from March 2016. We are hanging in at more than two points above the national unemployment rate of 4.9%. Mississippi’s one point unemployment year over year rate drop—from 6% to 5%—was significant.
Overall, the BS said, “Unemployment rates were lower in March in 17 states and stable in 33 states and the District of Columbia.”
The state added 7,100 wage jobs (seasonally adjusted jobs) in the year between March 2016 and March 2017, a performance the BLS did not consider statistically significant. This insignificance was too insignificant to make the DWS release. Seasonally unadjusted, the job gain was 6,800.
For mining and logging, the continuing drag on the state’s job picture, the year-over-year loss was down to 1,400.
Among the other losers, manufacturing continued down with a year-over-year drop of 1,100 in the durable goods sector. Retail trade dropped 800 seasonally adjusted jobs. Education lost 2,000 jobs with 1,700 (5.6%) from higher education (state government education) and 300 from local government education (public schools).
Leisure and hospitality was the bigger gainer for the month with 3,700 new jobs, seasonally unadjusted, and 2,900 with the adjustment. The combined education and health services sector added 3,200 jobs with 1,700 in health and 1,500 in education. Professional and business services added 800 jobs year-over-year.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rural Counties Lose 1,400 jobs

The January 2016 to January 2017 net job performance for New Mexico’s four metro areas was 2,300 more wage jobs. Albuquerque and Las Cruces respectively added 3,800 and 800 jobs. Farmington lost 1,800 and Santa Fe 500. The state added a net of 900 jobs, meaning that the 26 rural counties lost 1,400 jobs (2,300 minus 900 = 1,400).
Eight states lost jobs for the period. New Mexico had the lowest growth that was still positive. As has been reported, New Mexico led the nation with a 6.7% unemployment rate.
The Department of Workforce Solutions released the January job report yesterday. The new numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
Monthly job performance usually gets little attention due to seasonal changes. The year-over-year performance indicates the trend.
From December 2016 to January 2017, the state lost 19,400 jobs, 1,300 more than the 18,800 dropped from December 2015 to January 2016. For the year just past, the state’s 900-job increase represents a slight reversal from the 1,800 jobs lost between January 2015 and January 2016.
Mining gained 200 jobs between December 2016 to January 2017. Finance and wholesale trade show no change. Every other sector lost, “led” by retail trade with post-holiday layoffs causing a 3,900-job decline. Professional and business services was the largest other private sector loser, down 1,200 jobs.
State government education was also down 3,900 jobs for the month, presumably also holiday related. Local government education—the public schools—dropped 3,000 jobs. For the year, government employment increased in Albuquerque, led by 300 more feds, and showed modest losses in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington. Translated, the rural counties took the main hit.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Winter Continues for Abq Home Sales

Fewer single family detached homes have sold in metro Albuquerque of the few months and they took longer to sell. The standard winter slump? No doubt, mostly? But the average number of days that a home is on the market has risen steadily from 54 last November to 66 in February. The February average days figure was nine days less than the 75 days needed for a sale in February 2015. Some good news lurks.
February saw the sale closed for 633 detached homes, down 29 from January and down 39, or 5.8%, from January 2016. The 633 sales were 68% of the 937 sales pending during January, a relatively low proportion.
The 28 days of February masked a performance improvement from January. During February an average of 22.6 homes sold each day. During January, average sales per day were 21.4. Both figures were well down from December when 28.2 homes sold each day, even with all the holiday disruption.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the February sales report today. See
The median sales price was $186,500 during February. The average price was $223,104. Both figures were up just over 6.5% from February 2016. The average price has increased about 10% from February 2015.
Pending sales were 1,059 during February, a 12% increase from a year before. Pending sales were 770 in December and 937 in January.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Supporting GRT Reform

This essay ran as a "guest column" in the Albuquerque.The essay supports the comprehensive reform of New Mexico's gross receipts tax that is House Bill 412 in the current legislature. My column in support f HB 412 run in New Mexico News Services subscribing newspapers the week of March 6 and then will be posted at - HM

By Brian McDonald / Economic Consultant, Albuquerque and Chuck Wellborn / Retired Lawyer, Albuquerque
Albuquerque Journal, Friday, February 24th, 2017 at 12:02am
A pending bill in the Legislature, HB 412, seeks to bring badly needed reform to the state’s gross receipts tax by removing ill-considered deductions and exemptions, thereby expanding the GRT tax base and enabling the GRT tax rate to be reduced. The latter is a well-recognized principle of state taxation – tax a broad base of economic activity at a low tax rate.

One aspect of this bill that should be widely embraced is in fact one of its most controversial provisions. That is re-imposing GRT on food – though at a reduced rate.
There are more reasons to support the tax on food than many know:
⋄ It’s not at all clear that exempting food from GRT actually benefits the poor,
⋄ The benefits of the food tax exemption flow almost entirely to the non-poor,
⋄ The food tax break is a primary contributor to our current fiscal woes, reducing tax revenues by more than $200 million each year,
⋄ These lost revenues are desperately needed for public education, early childhood development and Medicaid, which do benefit the poor, and
⋄ Lost GRT tax revenue on food sales has forced cities and counties to increase their GRT rates on non-food items such as utilities and clothing, further burdening the poor.
Opponents of reinstating the food tax say that even though the poor get federal SNAP (food stamp) assistance, SNAP assistance only provides a portion of their food needs. Co-author Brian McDonald, a Ph.D. economist who headed UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research until his retirement, points to data that raises serious questions about this premise.
In fiscal 2015, SNAP assistance totaling $685.2 million went to 205,540 New Mexico households, with each household receiving $3,333 per year on average. By federal law, SNAP benefits have never been subject to GRT. The 2004 legislation eliminating food from the GRT tax base therefore provided little tax relief to the poor in New Mexico. New Mexico SNAP recipients today receive GRT tax benefits totaling $47.96 million – assuming a 7 percent GRT tax rate – by virtue of this federal exemption, not the 2004 New Mexico legislation exempting food.
How does the $3,333 in SNAP assistance each household received compare to the annual food purchases of similar households?
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey data for that year show that the lowest 10 percent of households in the United States by income spent $2,566 on “food at home” – the closest data concept to the New Mexico GRT tax base on food. The second lowest 10 percent of households by income spent $2,432 on food at home.
Extrapolating this data to New Mexico’s poor, the lowest 20 percent of households are receiving SNAP benefits, which typically cover most or all of their expenditures on food and which are not subject to GRT taxation by federal law. Under HB 412, these $685.2 million in food purchases by the poor will still be exempt from GRT.
The lower GRT tax rate proposed by HB 412 will give the poor in New Mexico real tax relief on their non-food purchases such as utilities, clothing, food consumed at restaurants and school supplies. Arguably, the poor in New Mexico will pay more GRT if HB 214 excludes food from the tax base because the GRT tax rate will have to be increased in order to generate the same level of tax collections with a smaller tax base.

Monday, February 13, 2017

January Home Sales Up 5.6% from Year Ago

January usually is the slowest month of the year for home sales. “Improvement,” therefore, is relative. But for January 2017, improvement it was, according to the January sales report released Friday by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
The sale of 662 single family detached homes closed during January. That was 35 more than January 2015 and a 5.6% improvement. In keeping with the seasonal trends, the January closed sales were 213 units or 24% less than December.
Pending sales went the other way with a 22% increase over December. It was 937 sales pending for January, up from 770 in December. The January pending performance beat January 2015 by 135 sales, or 16.8%. The heavy pending figure from January suggests robust closed sales for February.
Closing sales during January took longer by three days than during December. The 62 day average time on market was first month the average sales period was over 60 days since March 2016. The sales period has been as low as 49 days.
Pries were increased during January from a year ago but dropped from December. The $185,000 December median price beat January 2015 by 7.2%, or $12,500 but was $5,000 down from December. The average price, $218,488 in January, dropped almost $4,000 from December to the same level as November and October. The January 2015 average was 3.1% less than a year later.
The inventory of homes for sale, 2,889 during January, remains about 20% less than a year earlier.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Unemployment Rate Drops in Mississippi, Not in NM

Activity in New Mexico’s employment sectors churned in December but ended the month with a gain of 100 jobs. Government, mining and construction took care of losing 2,600 jobs. Private sector service sectors added 2,700 jobs to provide the 100 job gain, which, the Department of Workforce Solutions said was a “neutral percentage growth.”
Over the year, as reported last week, the state gained 2,400 jobs, bringing the wage job total to 835,400. New Mexico’s 6.6% unemployment rate was second place nationally behind Alaska. Mississippi, the nation’s unemployment leader at 6.8% in December 2015, reported 5.6% unemployed in December 2016.
For the month, leisure and hospitality led the growers with 900 new wage jobs, followed by professional and business services (+800) and education and health services (+500).
The numbers are in the DWS newsletter, Labor Market Review, which was released this afternoon. The numbers discussed here are not seasonally adjusted.
The three smaller metro areas—Las Cruces (+400), Farmington (+300) and Santa Fe (-200)—combined for a net gain of 500 jobs during 2016. The only big number among the three was 1,200 new education and health services jobs in Las Cruces, which offset the gain with 400 fewer jobs in both government and manufacturing. For Santa Fe, it was plus 100 here, minus 100 there, among the sectors.

Friday, January 20, 2017

December Job Growth is 0.3%

There are statistics and there are revised statistics. Revisions in the November job statistics turned the 2,500 job loss into a 900 job gain. No job should appear in the New Mexico Mudville as the new gain translates to 0.1%, a sum that could disappear in the blink of a statistician’s eye.
For December, the numbers released today report a 2,400-job increase from December 2015 to December 2016 to move the December 2016 wage job total to 835,400. The gain was 0.3%. Remember though, all is preliminary.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6%, down a hair from 6.7% in November and the same as December 2015.
The state’s Department of Workforce Solutions released the December job report today.
Education and health services (EHS), driven by Medicaid, continued as the state’s fastest growing sector with 5,700 new wage jobs, year over year. EHS has led sector job growth for 2.5 years, DWS said.
Professional and business services (+2,400 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (+1,400 jobs) continued as the second and third fastest growing sectors.
Year over year jobs losses in mining (oil and gas) have eased. From December 2015 to December 2016 it was 5,000 fewer jobs.
Manufacturing dropped another 800 jobs over the year to now employ 26,500 people.
Retail didn’t have much of a holiday season if employment is the measure. Retail trade employed 93,700 in December, marking a 2,800 job loss for the year.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Martinez Administration Tax Cuts Posted

January 14, 2017
Blog Readers: The bills listed below are those behind the Martinez administration’s oft stated brag of having cut taxes 37 times. My column for publication January 16 to 20 discusses the cuts and concludes there is less to the claim than meets the eye. My column is posted at after publication week.
The notes with the bill numbers are mine. Chris Sanchez only sent bill numbers and the year of passage.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 369 from 2012, showed no tax cuts. Let’s generous and assume the administration make a typo in compiling the bill numbers. – Harold Morgan


Chris: My weekly column goes to nine community newspapers around the state. At the lunch today (12/20/16) of the legislative outlook conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, Keith Gardner said, “We’ve cut taxes 37 times.” Please send me the list of those tax cuts. Please also include the session, bill number and estimated revenue impact.
Thank you. - Harold Morgan

Was unable to access fiscal impact report. Thus, do not have the forgone revenue from these cuts.

A number of these “cuts” were extensions of previously enacted tax credits or gross receipts exemptions. Others raised the amount of sales required for a tax to be charged. Taxes tended to be very narrowly focused.

Hey Harold. Here you go:

2011 HB 273 Trivial. limiting the research and development small business tax credit and extending it until 2015.

2011 HB 437 More than trivial. Possibly discriminates against rural counties? A property tax exemption for veteran’s organizations.
2011 HB 440 an “advanced energy deduction” and a gross receipts and compensating tax deduction to encourage the construction and development of qualified generating facilities to sequester or control carbon dioxide emissions. Hugely speculative. Amounts potentially very large.

2011 HB 523;SB 179 a gross receipts deduction for locomotive fuel. This might be called the Union Pacific bill. A deal breaker, it was called, with regard to UP constructing its rail yard near Santa teresa. . It was also an extension of a ill passed several years before.
2011 SB 84 Extending the gross receipts and compensation tax deduction for gross receipts on fuel specially prepared and sold for use in turboprop or jet-type engines. Appears to be a very narrow interest.

2011 SB 282
2012 HB 184 – two deductions
2012 HB 184
2012 HB 10
2012 HB 116
2012 HB 123
2012 SB 32
2012 SB 369 – No cut. Just definitions.
2013 HB 106
2013 HB 641 – Film and more.
2013 HB 641
2013 SB 14 – Extending tax credit.
2013 SB 81 – Increases and decreases beer tax.
2013 SB 116 – Increases wine tax rate, increases volume limit, cuts tax amount.
2013 SB 160
2014 HB24
2014 HB14
2014 SB88
2014 HB32
2014 HB288 – Biofuels.
2014 SB106
2015 SB279
2015 SB302
2015 SB448
2015 SB506
2015, (special session) HB2 Tax package. It dealt with a hodgepodge including the angel investment tax credit, medical care expenses, selling stuff to companies dealing with thee Department of Defense, and refunding the petroleum products loading fee. (What is the petroleum products loading fee? Why do we have it?)
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Abq Home Sales Continue Month-Over-Month Growth. Las Cruces Sales Strong in 2016.

January 12, 2017

Summarizing 2016 for sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque: More homes sold and sold faster for a bit more money.
Total 2016 single family sales were 11,021, plus 781, or 7.6%, from 2015. On average the homes sold in 55 days, nine days, or 14%, faster than 2016. The median price, $187,500, was up 4.5% from 2015 and the average price, $222,115, was up 4.1%.
The December results continued the trend of the year.
The sale of 875 homes closed during December. That was 30 homes, 3.6%, more than December 2016 and 77 homes, or ten percent, more than November. The December closing even beat October in defiance of the seasonal expectation of steadily declining sales during the fall as it gets colder.
The year closed with the sale of 770 homes pending, seasonally down 110, or 13%, from November, but 205, or 36% ahead of November 2016. A correlation of closed sales in one month with pending sales the previous month has been argued here, with a maximum of 90% of pending sales closed the following month. If any correlation exists, the relationship changed in December when the 875 closed sale were just five fewer than 880 sales pending during November.
The strong year-over-year increase of pending sales suggests a strong performance for closed sales during January (strong for January, anyway).
The homes sold in an average of 59 days, six days, or 7.8%, faster than December 2015. The average sales period for November and October was 54 days.
December’s median sales price was $190,000, a nice 8.6% increase from $175,000 during December 2015. The September median price was $195,000 with $189,000 during October and $185,000 for November.
The average price for December, $222,112, increased 7.8% or about $6,000 from December 2015. Average prices were flat at just under $219,000 during November and October. August and September saw average prices around $227,000.
In Las Cruces, according to the Sun-News, sales were “1,682 new and existing homes, townhomes and condominiums in 2016, making it the best production year since 2007, when 1,877 residential sales were booked. The all-time best year on record was 2006, when 2,303 homes changed hands.” The 2016 sales included 175 new homes.”
Single family detached homes “accounted for 1,405 of the total number of sales and brought an average price of $180,439, which was just $184 higher than 2015’s average price of $180,255. The homes took an average of 96-days to sell,” the Sun-News January 12 story said.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

NM Ties for Unemployment Lead

With 6.6% unemployed, New Mexico tied for highest unemployment in the nation with Mississippi, the District of Columbia, and Alaska.
Albuquerque swung to a year-over-year job loss in November with a decline of 500 wage jobs.
The other three metro areas went the other way. Las Cruces added 800 jobs, Santa Fe, 500, Farmington grew 300. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. The Department of Workforce solutions released the figures December 23 in its Labor Market Review newsletter.
A November to November drop in retail wage jobs of 3,400 pushed Albuquerque to the overall job loss. Statewide, retail lost 5,500 jobs. Manufacturing lost another 900 jobs for a November job total of 15,200. Growth in education and health services (Medicaid) continued with 1,200 new jobs over the year, a 1.9% increase.
Education and health services brought 1,300 jobs to Las Cruces for an 8.8% increase. Other sectors dropped 500 jobs for the year.
In Santa Fe some job sectors increase by 100 for the year. Others dropped 100. Education and health services added 400, a 4.1% increase.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Seasonal Patterns Rule Homes Sales

Seasonal patterns seem to be running the metro Albuquerque single family home sales market. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the November sales report December 12.
November’s closed sales were down from October by 27 homes or three percent, the seasonal pattern as it gets colder. Closed sales for November were 798 homes.
The number of pending sales, 880 in November, was down 118 from 998 in October.
The sales are happening expeditiously. The homes that had sales close in November were on the market an average of 54 days, the same as October.
The comparison to 2015 remains favorable. Closed sales were up 185 from November 2015, pending sales up 26%. Home sold during November nine days faster than during November 2015.
Buyers have fewer homes to consider. The inventory of homes for sale was 3,403 in November, 17% less than November 2015 and 277 homes or eight percent less than October.
There were 969 new listings during November and 1,215 during October.
The average sales price for homes that closed sale during November was $218,795, up $223 from October and up 2.7% from October 2015. The median price, $185,000 during November, was down $4,000 from October and up 2.7% from a year before.

Friday, December 16, 2016

November Provides a Third Month for Job Losses

November was the third consecutive month for wage job losses in New Mexico. The state dropped 2,300 jobs between, or 0.3%, between November 2015 and November 2016.
The Department of Workforce Solutions released the numbers today.
The numbers are preliminary and not seasonally adjusted.
Retail trade was the biggest loser for the November to November year with 5,500 fewer jobs. Mining and logging (oil and gas) lost “only” 5,100 jobs for the period. Local government education (the public schools) added 900 jobs for month but lost 1,100 for the year.
The sector gainers started with education and health services, (aka mostly Medicaid) with 6,000 new jobs, year over year. This performance continues the slowing of the EHS growth pointed out last month.
Professional and business services added 1,800 jobs. Leisure and hospitality added 1,600.
The metro areas appear to have gained employment (slightly different from wage jobs). Thus the rural counties are taking the hit.
We just think we got trouble. Wyoming lost 8,900 jobs, year over year. Its 3.1% loss was ten times the New Mexico drop. Yet Wyoming is going to give the football coach a big raise.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Eeducation and Health Services Show Slower Growth

New Mexico’s economic deceleration continued in the year from October 2015 to October 2016. The state lost 2,900 jobs, or 0.3% for the year. The Department of Workforce Solutions released the numbers Wednesday in its Labor Market Review newsletter.
The state lost 2,000 jobs, year over year, for September, gained 1,800 jobs for August and gained 9,600 jobs for July. The numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
A partial explanation comes from the education and health services sector, (aka mostly Medicaid) which gained 11,700 jobs in the year to July, 9,900 for August, 6,100 for September and ticked ever so slightly up for October to a 6,200-job gain. EHS remains by far the sector producing the most jobs. For the year to October, professional and business services (PBS) was second with 1,700 new jobs, followed by hospitality and leisure (H&L) with 1,000 jobs.
Those same three sectors produced 2,200 new jobs for metro Albuquerque, year over year. H&L led with 800 jobs. PBS and EHS both added 700 jobs. Albuquerque gained 1,900 jobs for the year, down from a 3,600 year-over-year September gain of 3,600.
Manufacturing lost 1,200 jobs in Albuquerque while the combined mining, logging and construction sector gained 1,600. The new jobs must be in construction because the metro has few mining and logging jobs. But what is being built? Facebook has barely started hiring. What else?
The other three metro areas, Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Farmington, generated 1,000 jobs for October, year-over-year, down from 1,200 in September. The main difference was in Farmington, which lost 400 jobs in October after gained 200 in September.
Four states lost a greater percentage of their jobs over the year than did New Mexico. They are Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Wyoming, the champs with a 3.6% loss. Utah and Colorado were, respectively, four and fifth in percentage job year over year with 3% and 2.5% more jobs.
A happy note for New Mexico of unknown effect came with the December 1 announcement that OPEC cartel member nations plus some other countries will cut oil production. The reaction appears to be higher prices for U.S. producers.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Job Losses Grow in October

New Mexico joined a select group in October with its year-over-year loss of 2,900 wage jobs, a 0.3% drop. Only four other states lost jobs. Two of the states had statistically significant losses: North Dakota, Wyoming.
Our unemployment rate, 6.7% in October, was the nation’s second highest, just behind Alaska’s 6.8%.
We lost 2,000 jobs between September 2015 and September 2016.
Mining, meaning oil and gas, added 300 jobs between September and October. The October 2015 to October 2016 loss was 6,500 jobs.
Retail trade was the second biggest year-over-year loser, down 2,800 jobs. Wholesale trade lost 900 jobs. Manufacturing dropped 1,400 jobs for the period.
Local government education was down 1,500 jobs for the year after adding 900 jobs during September.
Metro Albuquerque’s labor force increased by around 5,500 during to be 421,000. Employment was up 5,500. Employment also increased in the other three metro areas: Farmington, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.
Details to come November 30.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Single Family Home Sales Drop From October 2915

The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the October sale report the tenth. OK, a week late in getting the summary out to you.
There was news. Metro Albuquerque’s long run of monthly year-over-year single family home sales ended in October. Sales for the month were 825 homes, a 44-home, or 5.1%, drop from October 2015. Sales were well down from 969 homes in September, but that has to be the seasonal decline.
The homes the went to closing sold in an average of 54 days, five days faster than a year ago but slower than the 49 days during September and 51 days in October.
Pending sales during October went the other way, rising by five from September to 998 and posting a 152-home, or 19.4%, jump from October 2015.
Both the median and average sales prices were up about three percent from October 2015. The October 2916 median price was $189,000; the average was $218,252. The average price dropped about four percent from August and September when it was about $227,000. The October median price was just below the $190,000 median during August.