Monday, March 31, 2008

Population: Metro Areas

Two-thirds of New Mexicans live in urban areas, according to the latest metropolitan statistical area population figures from the Bureau of the Census. The figures are as of July 1, 2007. The state has four cities designated a metro areas: Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. For three, the metro area means a single county. The Albuquerque metro is four counties: Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia. Though the Albuquerque metro population concentrates along the Rio Grande, the metro is more 150 miles along its northwest to southeast diagonal.
Albuquerque plus Santa Fe—the north central urban area—have a population of 978,075, just shy of half the state's population of 1,969,915. The metro Albuquerque population is 835,120. Santa Fe has 122,427. Since Las Cruces' population was 198,791 as of mid-2007, Las Cruces probably has already passed the 200,000 mark. Farmington has 122,427.
By percentage growth, Albuquerque ranked 62nd among the nation's 363 metro areas for the period from 2000 to 2007. Las Cruces was 66th. Las Cruces percentage growth rank was 37th for the 2006-2007 year. Albuquerque is the nation's 60th largest metro area while Las Cruces is 205; Santa Fe, 270; and Farmington, 300.
Albuquerque's population increased 14.5% (105,467) for the seven year period followed by Las Cruces with a 13.8% (24,109) increase. The two switched places for the 2006-2007 period with Las Cruces up 2.5% and Albuquerque growing 2.1%.
Albuquerque got just over half its seven year growth from people moving to the metro from elsewhere in the United States—"net internal migration" in the Census jargon. Las Cruces got 61% of its seven year growth from babies, specifically having a lot more babies appear than people who died. Las Cruces' growth increase for the 06-07 year appears to have happened because the number of people moving to Las Cruces was 20% more than the natural increase, which is the difference between births and deaths. Farmington's population growth dropped to 0.5% between 2006 and 2007 as an estimated 739 people moved from San Juan County.
Roswell, the largest of New Mexico's micropolitan areas or small cities, posted an estimated population 62,595 as of July 1, 2007. That's up 988, or 1.6%, in a year. Roswell is the 155th largest of the nation's 576 micropolitan areas.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Income: State

For 2007, New Mexico stayed in 43rd place in the ranking of states by per capita personal income. Our per capita income was $31,474 in 2007, a 5.2% increase over the 2006 figure of $29,929. The rate of increase ranked 24th, suggesting that New Mexico's rank could increase given that the rate of increase ranked well above the income rank. Idaho remained in 44th place in per capita income. In 2007, New Mexico widened the lead over Idaho from $79 to $274.
In Colorado, the 2007 per capita income was $41,042, good for 10th place and 106% of the national per capita income. Connecticut has the nation's highest per capita income, $54,117 in 2007, which is 140% of the national average.
While the state's performance sounds nice, it was a big drop from 2006 when per capita income grew 6.2%, a growth rate that was ninth in the nation.
The data tables are posted in the Economic Data section at See Inc Pers NM 07.
Between 2006 and 2007, the sectors contributing the most to the state income growth were, in order, Professional and Technical Services, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Mining.
The figures, released March 26, are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Legislative Candidates

204 people are running for seats in the New Mexico Legislature this year. I'm not going to stake much on the exact number because gathering the names today proved to be a tedious pain in the neck and one or two may have been missed. The short version of the tediousness is that not all of the candidate names are on the Secretary of State's Web site. One has to go to counties, only one of which, Valencia, has candidate names posted on the county Web site. Valencia County, commendably, even lists the candidate's address.
There are three important sub-numbers: 51, 28 and 23. The number of unopposed incumbents is 51. That means that 46% of our legislators don't have to compete to stay in the legislature. They are reelected by virtue of having filed for reelection. The good ones will be communicating with their constituents by going door to door and by holding and attending community meetings. The number of unopposed Democrats is 28 and the number of unopposed Republicans is 23. If the Republicans had the slightest interest in capturing control of the legislature, the ratio would be flipped.
The three important numbers are slightly different from the original post due to sloppy reading of the candidate list. The point remains the same.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Two Charter Schools

Come fall of this year, two new Albuquerque area charter schools will begin involvement with the international baccalaureate "instructional environment," as one calls it. The schools are the Corrales International School, the "environment" one, and the Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School. Both advertised for an executive director in the March 23 Albuquerque Journal. The Web sites are and
Corrales will be in, surprise, Corrales, at 7227 Corrales Road. For now, Cottonwood is located at 1776 Montano Road NW, Bldg 3, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, 87107. Cottonwood describes the location as on the Unser Museum campus, "just east of the river."
Cottonwood will use the Paideia method as the framework for its instructional program, which will set the hearts of liberal arts fanatics pounding with joy and amazement. The program will be 15 -20% Socratic seminar, "a formal discussion based on a text in which the leader asks open-ended questions." Didactic teaching will get another 10 -15%. Didactic teaching sounds a bit like learning spelling lists and doing math homework to drill on methods. What Cottonwood calls the "coached project" will get the rest of the student time.
The international baccalaureate is the diploma awarded by the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West in Las Vegas, NM.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Vacant Homes

Around 1.6% of homes in New Mexico were vacant, on average, during the robust real estate years of 2004 to 2007. For 2007, the vacancy rate jumped to 2.8%, the highest figure  in many years. Between 1999 and 2002, the rate was 2.4%. The numbers are from the Census Bureau.
Albuquerque's vacancy rate went from 1.8% in 2005 to 2% in 2006 and 2.8% in 2007.


A good economic statistic that is seldom mentioned locally is the number of people filing new claims for unemployment compensation. Nationally, for the week of March 14, new claims increased 22,000. The four-week moving average increased 6,000. Both numbers are considered to indicate a further weakening of the labor market.
State figures lag, as always. For New Mexico, the number of new claims increased 73 for the week of March 8, as compared to a year ago. During the week of March 1, the number of people drawing unemployment was up 1,564 from a year earlier.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

County Population 2007

The 30.1% population growth for Sandoval County between the April 2000 census and July 1, 2007 makes it the 80th fastest growing county by percentage for the period. Number 100 was Burnet County, Texas, with a 27.9% increase. Burnet County is next door to Travis, County, the home to Austin.
The figures were released today, March 20. A number of the New Mexico specific tables are posted (or will be in a day or two) at
With 629, 292 people, Bernalillo County was the nation's 95th largest on July 1, 2007.
The picture is different for ten counties, McKinley plus nine cutting a broad swatch across the central and northeast part of the state. Those counties lost population between 2006 and 2007, for most continuing a long term trend.
The five largest population counties are Bernalillo (629,292), Dona Ana (198,791), Santa Fe (142,955), San Juan (122,427) and, gaining rapidly, Sandoval (117,866). The five smallest population counties are: Harding (716, -18), DeBaca (1,916, -4), Catron (3,431, +15), Union (3,792, +14), Guadalupe (4,447, +31). 
The other population losing counties are Colfax, -151; Curry, -298; Lincoln, -75; Los Alamos,     -161, McKinley, -442; Quay, -47; Socorro, -111, and Torrance, -134.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pre-Preprimary Conventions

Social Notes from the Santa Ana Star Center:  These items didn't make my column on the two preprimary conventions held yesterday, March 15. 
A mile up the hill from N.M. 528, heading to the Democrat's convention, I see a sign saying the center is another four miles away. The Center appears to be a nice facility, however distant. The location is described as in Rio Rancho's city center. I'm told the location is in fact in the center of incorporated Rio Rancho. The center also offers sand and wind. I followed two women up a stair at the back of the center. They seemed concerned about being blown from the stair well. I just got a mouth full of sand.  
For male Democratic candidates, black boots seemed the footwear of choice, except for Don Wiviott of Santa Fe. Wiviott and Ben Ray Lujan wore dark suits, Lujan with a white shirt and Wiviott with light blue. Martin Heinrich had the business casual uniform of blue button-down shirt and dark sports jacket.
Michelle Lujan Grisham wore a light gray suit while Rebecca Vigil-Giron's suit was dark. The convention gods smiled and put Lujan Grisham on the ballot and kept Vigil-Giron off, unless she gets additional signatures. Lujan-Grisham is proving a relentless campaigner. 
Harry Teague of Hobbs added white hard hats to the usual array of campaign gear.
The only American flags I saw were small ones on a volunteer recruiting table. I'm told the Republicans also showed few flags. 
New Mexico Democrats unveiled a detailed quota system for their national convention delegates under the guise of "affirmative action." They even specify three LGBT delegates.
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish told the delegates, "We're all just regular people people. Every regular person can make a difference." She said she does her own laundry and grocery shopping. I don't know (and don't want to know about the Denish laundry, but we have chatted in the grocery.m

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tourism: Mickey Mouse

Last Thursday,  Albuquerque hosted an unusual corporate event—the annual meeting of The Walt Disney Company. Yes, that Walt Disney, the company that has Mickey Mouse as its symbol, is a Dow 30 company, had sales of more than $35.5 billion in the most recent fiscal year and a market capitalization of nearly $80 billion on March 5, the day before the Albuquerque meeting. Right in River City in the Kiva auditorium at the convention. (Dow 30 is jargon for being one of the 30 companies whose stock makes up the Down Jones Industrial Average.)
But if you didn't go, you didn't know about it, at least if you got news from somewhere other than KOAT. KOAT did have an interview with Disney CEO Robert Iger. One would figure that KOAT would have a report, given that KOAT is an ABC affiliate and Disney owns ABC.
About 500 attended the Disney show. There were even annual meeting groupies, people who attend every year, whatever the location. Disney changes the meeting location every year. People came from New York and LA, as one would expect. People also came from Salt Lake City, Scottsdale, Pennsylvania, Amarillo, Austin, Placitas and Clovis.
Iger, who got flack from questioners about his $29 million earnings, provided the essence of the Disney approach. "Quality content is at the heart of everything we do. Great stories never go out of style." Later, answering a question about technology, he said, "The world today is incredible for a company such as ours."
The question period was about an hour. Iger and Chairman John E. Pepper, Jr., took all topics and most of the time gave a straight answer. 
Iger danced a bit when asked if "Song of the South," the lovely 1946 film about the Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit stories, would be released on DVD. "It's kind of complicated," Iger said, adding that the move was "made in a different time," which is a way of saying that the movie portrays stereotypes that would be considered hugely stereotyped today if not rampantly racist. 
Asked why Disney wasn't selling a DVD of "Path to 9/11," a tv miniseries, Iger only said that it was "not in the business interest" of Disney. The show was considered especially unkind to the policies of the Clinton administration. Iger did elaborate was to why not making money selling the DVD was in the company's interest. The questioner got a tad testy.
An Amarillo teenager asked if there would be a movie of "Peter and the Star Catcher?" A Californian suggested selling a world-wide pass to Disney facilities. Such a move would be a logical next step to the nation-level passes now sold. "That's an interesting idea," Iger said, one which had never come up.
The business part of a corporate annual meeting is necessarily lame Seldom is there excitement in the election of board members or ratifying the choice of accountant. That part of the Disney meeting was indeed dull. However, the video that began the meeting was everything one would expect of Disney tooting its own horn. There was a bonus, unveiling of the trailer for the upcoming movie, "Wall-E," which looks like a fascinating combo of a Disney cartoon love story set in a Philip Dick science fiction apocalypse. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

INcome Inequality

John Edwards hung his presidential aspiration hat on the notion that there were two (he said) or maybe three groups of Americans—the rich, exploiting everyone; the downtrodden poor, forgotten and left behind; and the ones in the middle, generally getting the shaft. Americans listened in 2004 and didn't buy. Nor did we buy in 2008 when Edwards did worse than in 2004, though in 2008, Edwards did beat Bill Richardson. Perhaps one explanation for Edwards' performance is that his sales pitch wasn't true. Iowans, after all, have practice at such analysis.
In the March 10 Wall Street Journal, Brad Schiller, an economics professor at two universities, reviews the latest household income data from the Census Bureau. The starting "fact" is, "the top-earning 20% of households get half of all the income generated in the country, while the lowest-earning 20% get a meager 3.4%." Well, OK, Schiller says, except that...
For example, the real income of that lower 20% is up about three-fold since 1970. Schiller talks about household size, which has declined, meaning that more people have enough money to live on their own. Young adults are one example. My daughter isn't earning much, but she is managing. Immigrants, he notes, typically come in at the bottom of the income scale. 
The broader point, which Schiller doesn't quite say, is that the membership in each income group is dynamic and changes over time. Young people join the the earning world at lower incomes and, typically, earn more over time and move up. For immigrants, the moving up may be from generation to generation, but they do, usually, earn more. From the top group, people move down, perhaps through financial setbacks or retirement. Or perhaps because people rapidly climbing the earning ladder muscle them out. 
Overall, Schiller says, "When you look at the really big picture, it's apparent that living standards are rising across the entire spectrum of incomes."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Job Growth: January

In its monthly news release, the latest released March 6, the Department of Workforce Solutions continues to brag about the state's continuing record low unemployment rate. It was 3.1%, seasonally adjusted, in January, down from a revised 3.2%. The bragging rights go to the rate for an obvious reason; job growth has pretty much disappeared across the state. The number of wage jobs increased 0.5% in the year from January 2007 to January 2008. While DWS does explain the job situation, explanation of the low unemployment rate continues to be studiously avoided. Maybe DWS figures no one will ask. 
The rural areas have grown  less than the state over the past year. That's because the four metro areas have have added jobs at or above the state's growth rate. Farmington is the January to January job growth champion with a 3.8% increase. Growth rates for the other metros are Las Cruces, 1.8%; Santa Fe, 1.7%; and Albuquerque, 0.5%.
Construction and manufacturing are the drags statewide, down a combined 3,500 jobs in the past year. A little hope exists for manufacturing in the form of today's Albuquerque Journal job from Eclipse Aviation seeking people for more than 14 types of position. Construction, at least residential construction, is going nowhere for a while. 
Every year DWS "benchmarks" previously released job reports with more complete data. The latest revisions reduced 2007 employment estimates by an average of 0.2%. That means the growth, such as it was to start, was reduced, too.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Urban Prophet: Chris Leinberger

I introduced Chris Leinberger to Albuquerque in 1988. He was living in Santa Fe, a refugee from LA. He was an eloquent, literate and, as it proved, handsome developer/consultant who I found in The Atlantic. Leinberger later played a key role in the New Urbanist developments in downtown Albuquerque. He has gone on to greater things as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Leinberger is back in The Atlantic, speculating in the March 2008 issue about the future of suburbs. His annoying article, "The Next Slum," isn't presented as speculation, but it is rife with operative verbs including "suggests," "likely," and "maybe." Not exactly definitive. He starts with a grand assertion but then cops out at the end. The assertion: "A structural change is underway in the housing market—a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work. It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes." (I love the unsubstantiated use of "many." Well, how many, I want to know.)
This shift is to the joys of "walkable urban places," which seems to mean "living within walking distance of walkable (mixed use) retail districts." This shift, Leinberger claims, will turn the "McMansions" of the 'burbs into apartments and ultimately slums. I think McMansion means: A large house that the user of the word considers unjustifiably large, cheaply built, looks like all houses in the given neighborhood and is built in a style disliked by the person calling it a McMansion. There is much sneering condescension in the use of the term. 
Here's the cop-out at the end: Leiberger says he "doubt(s) the swing toward urban living will ever proceed as far as the swing to the suburbs did... But there will almost certainly be more of a balance between walkable and drivable communities..." Hardly a "major shift" after all.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Golf Tourism

This is one those situations where once was chance, but twice is a trend. The topic is golf tourism in New Mexico. For family reasons, I to Wisconsin at least once a year. A few years ago, a friend traveled to Albuquerque from Wisconsin with some other folks Wisconsinites. This group—of four, I think—coming to play golf around Santa Fe. I alerted them to Paa-Ko. 
Here is the trend. Last week, flying into Madison, Wisconsin, my seat mate turned out to be a Lands End marketing representative in the business-to-business end of things. He and some friend do an annual golf trip. They go somewhere and play 36 holes every day. For this year, he convinced his friends to come to Albuquerque. They agreed, but reluctantly. They will come the first of April. This man lived in Albuquerque about 15 years ago and wanted to come back and golf. He knew about Paa-Ko and his group will play there.
If I have found—utterly randomly—two groups from the frozen north coming to New Mexico to play golf, there have to be many more. Our tourism people should consider some small advertisements in frozen north golf publications, which I assume exist.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nuclear Power

We've heard reports about enthusiasm for growing the use nuclear power in the United States. Here are two indications that something really is happening.

1. The Republican-controlled Assembly (House of Representatives) in Wisconsin is debating a bill that would lift the state's de facto moratorium on new nuclear power facilities. The 1983 law law outlaws the construction of new plants unless taxpayers would save money and a federal waste repository is operating. Should the bill pass the Assembly, Wisconsin Senate promises to not debate it, much less pass it. Still, the fact that the bill is getting a hearing in the Assembly is a big change.
- Wisconsin State Journal 2/29/08
2. In Iowa, land of the hallowed ethanol subsidies, 57 members of the House are co-sponsoring a bill to allow nuclear energy projects to hit the state government for millions of dollars in state grants. Iowa recently scored a Google data center and hopes to attract one from rival Microsoft. A stable and ample supply of affordable power is considered a key to such growth. 
- Dubuque Telegraph Herald 3/2/08
While the relevance of these actions to New Mexico is distant at best, more nuclear plants will eventually mean demand for New Mexico's uranium, should producers ever be able to get through the state bureaucracy and actually produce.