Thursday, July 29, 2010

Abq Home Sales Continue to Beat 2009

The metro Albuquerque June home sales numbers have been out a couple of weeks, but I haven't seen them published. Maybe I missed something. So here they are.
We're almost to the end of July. Pending sales are a leading indicator and dropped sharply in May after the first-time tax credit mostly ended April 30. Sales dropped eight units during June from 731 in May, after four months of increases. So the question will be July. The number of pending sales grew by 51 during June, to 729 from 678 in May.
During June, sales of single-family detached homes continued the string of monthly year-over-year increases that have been the theme for 2010. Metro Albuquerque saw the sale closed on 723 single-family homes during June, an 11.4% increase from June 2009, according to the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
Home prices during June were the highest of the year, though down slightly from June 2009. The median home selling price was $181,000, meaning that half the metro homes sold during June cost more than $181,000 and half were less. The average selling price was $219,723.
Homes continued to sell briskly with the average home sold during June on the market for 68 days. That was just two days longer than the 66-day average sales period during May, which was the best since 2005.
There were 185 single-family detached homes sold for prices between $120,000 and $149,000. Prices between $160,000 and $199,000 accounted for 140 home sales during June with 115 sold for between $200,000 and $249,000. Three homes sold for $1 million or more during June.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Economic Rank Drops 22 Places

New Mexico Business Weekly ( reports that the New Mexico economy ranks 36th in health among the states. The report is from, owned by American City Business Journals Inc., as is Business Weekly. The annual study emphasizes performance of the private sector. Gauging the unemployment rate, Business Weekly says, “New Mexico's employment picture appears to be stabilizing a bit.”
I disagree.
Here are the numbers.

2010 rank 36
State New Mexico
Employment score -3.79

Private-sector jobs (May 2010) 597,700
Percent growth in private-sector jobs (2005-10) -1.4%
Percent growth in private-sector jobs (2009-10) -2.7%
Raw growth in private-sector jobs (2005-10) -8,300
Raw growth in private-sector jobs (2009-10) -16,600
Unemployment rate (May 2010) 8.4%

2010 rank 36
2009 rank 14
2008 rank 8
2007 rank 7
2006 rank 10
2005 rank 13

Monday, July 26, 2010

Microsoft Analogy Invoked Again. And Wrongly. Of Course.

Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack said today he believes in the Green2V project, a $500 million, one million-square-foot solar panel manufacturing plant proposed for Rio Rancho. Once the city receives the necessary financial information, we will do due diligence, he said. Swisstack’s statement suggests the city has yet to received the financials for the startup firm. Swisstack spoke at the monthly meeting of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.
The point here is that Swisstack invoked the Microsoft analogy and invoked it erroneously, following the example of almost all Albuquerque civic leaders over the decades. He claimed Microsoft left Abq because “they couldn’t get the money.”
Swisstack’s implication is that some sort of civic failure exists in the departure of Microsoft from Albuquerque. That isn’t true. It was business.
Specifically (and I writing from memory here, so forebear an occasional detail), it was the mid-1970s. Microsoft had a debt, legal fees, I believe, to the Poole Law Firm. It was $50,000. Gates tried to borrow the money from Albuquerque National Bank, a decidedly conservative outfit. ANB said no, and no surprise. Gates was a very smart visionary, aged maybe 22. Such folks don’t get money from banks. Nor do they get money from lawyers. Bob Poole declined the opportunity to swap the debt for equity. Again, this was a correct decision. Lawyers, my dad having been a major exception, are supposed to work for money, not equity. Neither bankers nor lawyers do venture capital.
Gates then went home to Seattle, the location of the money. It was a business decision. End of story. No social failure on the part of the Albuquerqueans.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Long Term Unemployment Way Up

The Federal Reserve Banks all have publications written for the rest of us. One of those is of EconSouth, produced by the Atlanta Fed ( The Second Quarter 2010 issue looks at long term unemployment. The title is, “Out of the Workplace… and Struggling to Find a Way Back in.”
The article says, “The U.S. Department of Labor examines the nation’s workforce from multiple angles: age, gender, educational level, and geography, to name a few. Among these demographic categories, the growth of long-term unemployment is apparent. In April 2009, 27.5 percent of the nation’s unemployed had been out of work 27 weeks or longer, according to BLS data. By December, that number had jumped to 39.8 percent of the unemployed. By April of 2010, the number was drawing close to half of unemployed workers at 45.9 percent, practically double the rate from the previous recession, which peaked at 23 percent.
“A group known as the marginally attached includes people not looking for work but who indicate they want a job and have looked sometime in the last year; discouraged workers (a subset of the marginally attached, they have given a job market–related reason for not currently seeking work); and people working part time for economic reasons (for example, those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule). The U.S. Census Bureau places the combined percentages of the unemployed and marginally attached at around 17 percent of the potential labor force, which comprises the employed, unemployed, and marginally attached.”
In New Mexico during the first quarter of 2010, this larger group came in at 14.5 percent of the potential labor force. See
Retraining is an uncertain venture for those over 50 because the rate of return is low, the article says. Shifting workers into a new sector also is easier said than done.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

State Drops 11,900 Jobs During June

New Mexico lost an amazing 11,900 wage jobs from May to June and 14,200, or 1.8 percent, between June 2009 and June 2010, the state Department of Workforce Services reported today. The size of the monthly losses seem surprising, especially considering the lack of large layoffs that would have hit in June.
The sweet life has ended for state government employees as 4,300 jobs went away year over year. State government lost 9,600 jobs in June. Federal government employment grew 3,900 over the year, mostly because of the census, which is about done. Look for the federal job total to drop.
After several months of three or four job sectors growing, we’re back to having just two with year over year job growth. The educational and health services (a single sector) and leisure and hospitality (also a single sector) both added jobs. Leisure and hospitality is essentially tourism. DWS offered no explanation of the growth. My story from July 5 is that Russell's Truck Stop folks at Springer must have had a good holiday weekend. At about 3:30 the afternoon of July 5, we had to wait to get access to a gas pump. No long, but any wait seems unusual. The trash cans were overflowing. A down note was that one set of rest rooms was "out of commission." I’m told that resort communities across northern New Mexico also had good traffic over the Fourth.
Five counties have more than 10% unemployed.
The metro areas:
Albuquerque: May-June: 3,500 jobs lost. June 2009 – June 2010: 5,100 jobs lost.
Las Cruces: May-June: 1.900 jobs lost. June 2009 – June 2010: 400 jobs gained.
Santa Fe: May-June: 200 jobs added. June 2009 – June 2010: 700 jobs lost. No state government jobs disappeared in Santa Fe during June. Nor did any go away in the past year. State government employment in Santa Fe remained at 8,200.
Farmington: May-June: 100 jobs lost. June 2009 – June 2010: 2,200 jobs lost.

Historian Office Location Is Secret. Email, too

The headline exaggerates. Just a bit.
The Office of the State Historian is supposed to be at 1205 Camino Carlos Rey in Santa Fe. It may be there. Here’s the tale of finding the State Historian.
One heads east from Cerrillos Road and after a couple of blocks, a large building appears to the left or north. The sign on the building identifies it as the state library. The pillar sign in front says the building houses the state library and other organizations but makes no mention of the historian. The building has two wings with the entrance where the wings meet. Eventually a sign is noticed on the top of the building. The sign says, “1209 Camino Carlos Rey.”
The conventional logic of building numbering dictates that 1205 is next door to 1209. This logic turns into much cruising of the parking lot behind 1209. No 1205 appears.
Eventually the guy approach—look around and find 1205—runs out of options. Plan B becomes to ask someone inside 1209 for the location of 1205. Lo and behold, the first office seen inside 1209 is the State Historian. This suggests the conclusion that the eastern wing of the building is 1205. No information supports this conclusion.
The trip to the State Historian’s office came as a way to deal with an email to the office that was bounced back with the message, “Remote SMTP server has rejected address Diagnostic code: smtp;553 sorry, that domain isn't in my list of allowed rcpthosts (#5.7.1).”
The Santa Fe trip was already planned so the notion became to take a minute and drop the rejected email by the State Historian’s Office.
The woman in the foyer of the office received the email and commented that the rejected address was the organization’s old email address. The comment offered another insight into secrecy. The email address came from the Historian’s website.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Job Losses Lead Nation

New Mexico leads nation in percentage job losses. Here's the word(s), released today, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During June, "The largest over-the-month percentage decreases in employment (among all the states) occurred in New Mexico (-1.4 percent)...The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in New Mexico (-2.2 percent)." Further, employment dropped 11,500 jobs in the state during June. That astonishing figure ranks fourth nationally. Arizona, with more than twice New Mexico's population, was just ahead of us in raw job losses with 11,700 gone.

Employment, seasonally adjusted, in New Mexico was 804,400 in May and 793,200 in June.

Some measurement quirks may exist because New Mexico's unemployment rate actually dropped from 8.4% in May to 8.2% in June. The unemployment rate 8.7% in April and 7.1% in June 2009.

This a helluva topic to pick for restarting blog entries here. But I had to start sometime.