Monday, December 31, 2007

Production Schedule Note

The print magazine, Capitol Report New Mexico, appears three times each year. From the time we go to press, it takes about four weeks to get the magazine in the mail. 
The two elements combine to mean that sometimes the headline events pass us by, cases in point being the death of Sen Ben Altamirano, December 27, and the withdrawal, December 30, of Rep. Joe Cervantes from from the race for Congress. The plan, now, is to have a tribute in the Spring capitol report to Sen. Altamirano's long service to the state.
Of necessity and inclination, Capitol Report isn't too worried about the headline events, but rather gives emphasis to the policy deliberations and information that turn into the headlines. Our attention to headline items comes here, in this blog, where we put a light on developments given short shrift elsewhere such as job growth.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bosque del Apache

Our jaunt today to the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge south of San Antonio uncovered a new bit of bureaucratic language. The Rio Viejo Trail in the refuge was posted with a sign saying motorized vehicles were not allowed. That was fine. Then the sign offered an explanation. The ban was so that people using the trail could have "a non-motorized recreational experience." The need to explain the ban was odd enough, but "non-motorized..." Gad!  And We the People pay people to think up this stuff?
The trail was decorated with a cell phone tower. At least the tower was 20 or so yards off the trail, mostly hidden in the trees. Our surprise at seeing the tower quickly gave way to admiration for the wildlife folks who run the bosque for picking up a few bucks leasing the tower site. (We assume it was leased.) It isn't as if technology and "motorized" stuff is not found at the bosque. The bird food,—corn and other grains—is planted using machinery and made available to the bird using machinery.
As we entered the driving tour loop, we saw a bald eagle perched alone at the top of the skeleton of a tree. Glorious.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Job Growth November

Wage employment in New Mexico grew 1.2% during the year from November 2006 through November 2007. The numbers were released yesterday. This was up from the 0.9% growth in the October to October year. During November, the state's unemployment rate bumped to 3.4% from the record (since 1976) low in October of 3.1%. While never a single data point does a trend make, it seems here that the state's low job growth has to show up in a higher unemployment rate eventually.
Construction around the state is down 400 jobs (0.7%) in the past year. Manufacturing has lost 1,500 jobs or 0.4%. The information sector, home to movie jobs, is flat. The Department of Workforce Solutions, source of these numbers, continues to point out the project nature of movie work. The short term jobs can mean swings or several thousand jobs, one way or the other, during a given months. It appears that a good many movie jobs are hardly the long term "sustainable" jobs that were promoted as the benefit of putting big money into industry subsidies.
Wage employment in Albuquerque grew only 0.4% during November to November year. That meant 1,400 new jobs over the year. Four of the 12 major industry groups lost jobs. Six added employment, but only 100 in several sectors.
Wage jobs increased 2.1% in Las Cruces, 4.3% in Santa Fe and 2.1% in Farmington.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

NM Population: New Numbers

The population was 1,969,915 On July 1, 2007, the Census Bureau estimates. The figures were released today. That is an increase of 150,869, or 8.3%, since the census in April 2000. New Mexico was the nation's 36th largest state in 2000. It still is. New Mexico ranks 29th in the number of new people since the census and 16th in the percentage of population growth. The annual number of new residents of New Mexico has increased each year since 2003. So has the percentage of population increase.
What is called "net internal migration" is the reason for the increasing rate of population increase. This means people moving to New Mexico from other parts of the U.S. and people leaving the state for other parts of the U.S. For New Mexico, net internal migration was negative in the late 1990s. It was 31% of the state's population in the year from July 1, 2007 to July 1, 2007. This 31% figure has grown from pretty much zero in 2000. Net internal migration has produced 22% of the state's population growth since 2000.
Immigration from outside the U.S., illegal or otherwise, has produced 17% of the population growth since 2000 and 17% in the 2006-2007 year. 

Friday, December 21, 2007

Personal Income

For the third quarter of 2007, New Mexico had the nation's second highest rate of personal income growth with a 1.9 percent increase over the second quarter of 2007. Nationally, personal income grew 1.4 percent during the quarter. The figures were released December 19 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The state of Washington had the nation's highest personal income growth, a situation explained by stock grants during the quarter from information industry companies such as Microsoft.
For the quarter in New Mexico, dividends, interest and rent were up 2.9 percent to lead the income components. Net earnings increased 1.6 percent. Retail trade, up 0.9 percent during the quarter, led the sector growth, followed by mining and transportation, both up 0.8 percent. Earnings in the slumping construction sector were up 0.1 percent.
The earnings growth came as New Mexico's job growth continued down, dropping to 0.9 percent for the year from October 2006 through October 2007.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Santa Teresa Port of Entry

During October, northbound commercial crossings at the Santa Teresa port of entry with Mexico hit a record 4,149 commercial vehicles. This was a 32 percent increase over October 2006. Jamie Campos, executive director of the New Mexico Border Authority says the increase came the port extended operating hours to 10 p.m. from the pervious close time of 6 p.m.
Jerry Pacheco of the International Business Accelerator in Santa Teresa says the increase in traffic has been in the 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. window. Truckers who might previously have missed the 6 p.m. closing now have a margin allowing them to get to Santa Teresa. 
The new hours began September 7, though crossing traffic did not jump until October.
Santa Teresa is 10 miles due west of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez as the crow flies. The port is ideally suited to serve south Juarez and shipping coming from the interior of Mexico, Pacheco says.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tax Proposals

The New Mexico Tax Research Institute ( passes along the tax proposals endorsed for the 2009 session by the interim Revenue Stabilization and tax Policy Committee. TRI calls the proposals "relatively low impact."
The dozen proposals include a fix to the small counties assistance distribution formula, $800,000 to the emergency service fund, more money to municipalities from the law enforcement protection fund, fixing (i.e., removing) the application of overtime of the state's new minimum wage to police, firefighters and other government employees not working "traditional" 40 hour schedules, a local option for capital outlay for gross receipts taxes, money for a statewide, computer-assisted mass property tax appraisal system, expanding the ability of local governments and tribes to deposit money with the state treasurer for investment, and a couple of proposals affecting wine producers. 

Friday, December 14, 2007

UNM school of business

It really is the Anderson School of Management. The name used to be, awkwardly, Schools of Management, referring to the undergraduate school and the graduate school. The school is benefitting from architectural creativity rarely seen in the public sector except, perhaps the building of trophy museums such as in downtown Denver. The building immediately west of Anderson's 1970s home houses the Parrish business library on the first floor and was built with the second floor cantilevered toward the east. Someone got the bright idea of wrapping glass around the space below the cantilever and creating a student lounge. And so they did.
Yesterday a planned series of business to business presentations debuted with Allen Parkman, Anderson professor emeritus of economics, discussing his newest book, "Smart Marriage." About 20 years ago Parkman added a law degree to his Ph.D. union card and since then has focused on law and economics with special emphasis on analysis of marriage. 
The law gives us the rules, Parkman says. Economics tell us how people play.
Parkman is a footnote in New Mexico politics. In 1988 he ran as a libertarian in the race for congress that was won by the late Steve Schiff over Tom Udall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


OK, why aren't we collapsing as oil flirts with the $100/bbl price level. There are three reasons, offers The Economist, the London, England, based magazine. The Economist actually cites new papers by three "well-known economists (who) come to similar conclusions: oil shocks do not hurt as much because oil used less intensively than before, because the economy is more flexible and because central banks are better at controlling inflation." The economists are Oliver Blanchard and Jordi Galf, both of MIT, and William Nordhaus. The article is in the November 17 issue.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Santa Fe Economic Development

SFEDI is closing because of money, or, rather, the lack of it. In a statement issued yesterday to The New Mexican, Cathy Zacher, SFEDI director, said, "Unfortunately, the continuing operation of SFEDI is... dependent upon financial support provided by the community through state and local government. That support has not been forthcoming."
Our view is that where there is commitment, there is money. No money, no commitment.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Santa Fe Economic Development

The email notice came this afternoon that the organization is closing December 31 after 22 years in operation. No explanation was provided. But then such notices don't usually provide explanations. In mid-1997, SFEDI developed what it called the Cluster Approach to Economic Gardening. While the sound of economic gardening is more than a bit new agey or something, the approach seemed sensible in an environment hostile in general to things economic and specifically to economic development. Over the past decade, SFEDI has helped more than 900 companies start or expand. The organization and longtime director Catherine Zacher will be missed.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Form Based Zoning

Planning, as an occupation, and planners have fads. The latest is "form based zoning." Albuquerque got an introduction Saturday morning when about 150 people, a good many of them planner types, attended a three-hour "form based code presentation." City Councillor Issac Benton, an architect who hates cars, led the pitch. (Benton's city Web site {} has this line, "He does not support continuing to design Albuquerque around a perceived need to accommodate more and more cars." 
Form based zoning seems to mean that building shapes and arrangement are dictated by the zoning code rather than developer, designer and market inspiration. One of the eight "basic principles" listed on a handout is "sustainability," a term overused and turned into convenient mush. Here sustainability means, "Gives developers and neighborhoods the opportunity to create something that fits with our times and our values." Small problem: Values and times change. But that doesn't matter because a form based system would be parallel to the existing zoning code. "Walkability," which apparently means walking to the corner grocery (necessarily small, with limited inventory and higher prices), seems a thread through it all.
Bob Feinberg, an Albuquerque commercial real estate broker, attended and, in starting the comment period, made points no one wanted to hear. Feinberg discovered, by asking for a show of hands, that four people had walked to the meeting. None of the slides touting success of the form based approach were of cities with any relation to Albuquerque, he said. This brought memories of the mid-80s Festival marketplace that was supposed to save Albuquerque's downtown. The Festival Marketplace glories were also promoted by analogy to other cities, only one of which, Dallas, was between the Mississippi River and the West Coast. 
None of the expensive condominiums have sold in the former First National Bank in downtown Albuquerque, Feinberg said. Albuquerque's "downtown is not a success. It is a dismal failure," he said.
Feinberg talked too long for Councillor Benton who told him to stop.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Real Estate: Industrial & Commercial

Around metro Albuquerque, there are 35 million square feet of space for industrial activity, with about six percent vacant as of the fall of 2007. The vacancy rate nationally is 10%. Cities around the region such as Tucson, Dallas and Denver have a higher vacancy rate than Albuquerque.  During 2007, there were 1.5 million square feet absorbed by new activity. Much of the absorption came in two pieces, the Tempur-Pedic mattress factory and Albuquerque Studios film facility in the Mesa del Sol development. Land ready for industrial development costs around $10 per square foot. The supply is quite limited.
Office space in Albuquerque is 11% vacant, the lowest rate in recent memory. Albuquerque has 15 square feet of office space per capita, comparable to Salt Lake City and Phoenix and double the space in Tucson. Projections of past growth suggest the need for 2.5 million square feet of new office space over the next nine years or about 280,000 square feet per year. Guarded optimist is the office market outlook for 2008 with the vacancy rate up a bit and rents flat to down.
The figures and the outlook are from the Albuquerque chapter of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. The group spoke to NAIOP, the commercial developers organization, in late November.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Real Estate: Some New Numbers

The U.S. housing market peaked during the fourth quarter of 2005. Eighteen months later, in the second quarter of 2007, metro Albuquerque mortgage delinquencies of 30 days or more were 2.64%, a drop of 0.09 percentage points. Just 14 markets around the country showed a greater improvement. Nationally, as of the second quarter of 2007, an average of 3.15% of mortgages were delinquent, an increase of 1.12 percentage points.
Overall, 2.7% of New Mexicans' mortgages were delinquent during the third quarter of 2007. For first mortgages, the delinquency rate was 2.75%; for home equity loans, 1.07%; and, for closed end second mortgages, 2.71%.
There were 22,782 high rate mortgage loans made in New Mexico during 2006. The value of the loans was $2,702 million. The high rate loans were 26.2% of mortgage loans during 2006 and 21.6% of the loan total. New Mexico's percentage of high rate loans ranked 25th nationally. The loan total was 27th
Equifax and Moody's produced the report with help from realtors. The report appeared yesterday on

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Wilson Announcement Tour

Rep Heather Wilson's tour of the state announcing her United Senate campaign turned out to be a listening tour. It ended last Friday afternoon in Edgewood, east of Albuquerque in the community center. Questions and topics of interest raised by the 14 people attending started with taxes. Transportation and immigration were the other big topics. 
In handling immigration, Wilson said, the government has lost its credibility. To regain the credibility, the government must regain "operational control of the border." Doing so means a combination of many approaches, she said,such as enforcement, technology, and information and security systems. "I oppose amnesty," she said. "People should come here legally." A big percentage of people illegally in the country do come legally, but stay when their visa expires. "We need to be very careful how we talk about these things. We are a law biding people. We are a caring people."