Friday, December 21, 2012

Last 2012 Jobs Report: Lump of Coal

The final job performance report of the year brought New Mexicans a lump of coal.

The state not only lost jobs on a year-over-year basis—from November 2011 to November 2012—jobs disappeared between October 2012 and November 2012. This applies for both seasonally adjusted figures and the straight non-adjusted figures.

For the seasonally adjusted numbers, the state has 798,300 wage jobs in November. That was down 5,300, or 0.066% from November 2011, and down 1,300, or 0.0016% from October. The losses were small enough to be perhaps be considered a rounding error. Still, the direction was down.

The numbers were reported today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state's Department of Workforce Services.

The feds lumped transportation and utilities with trade, confusing things. The artificially added mega-sector was flat, both year-over-year and from October. The problem that November is supposed be the month retailers add staff for Christmas.

Not good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Year-Over-Year Home Sales Increase Continues

Sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque during November brought to 17 months the string of year-over-year increases, according to figures released by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors this afternoon.

November sales as compared to October reverted to the colder-weather seasonal sales decline pattern defied in October when sales were up from September. November sales—552 homes—dropped 121 units, or 18%, from October.

Homes sold during November were on the market an average of 66 days, the second shortest sales period of the year, tied with August and just behind the 65 day average sales period during July.

Median and average prices, which both dropped during October, split their behavior during November. November’s median price of $165,000, though up 3.1% from October 2011, dropped $1,700 or one percent from October 2012. The average price increased by $1,826, or one percent, during November to $204,653. The November average was up almost $10,000 from a year earlier. The sale of four homes at more than $1 million pushed the average price performance.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Jobs and Unemployment Claims Drop

Not only is the New Mexico economy losing jobs, it is producing fewer unemployed or at least fewer people seeking unemployment compensation. One would think those jobless people would head to the unemployment office.

However, over the six weeks through the week ending November 17, fewer new unemployment compensation claims were filed each week the during the same week a year earlier. The drop in new claims ranged from 626 the week ending with October 6 to 34 the week ending November 10.

During the same period of 2009, initial claims were running around 2,100 each week, a third higher than now. New claims were around 500 more than during the same week of 2008.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Six States Worse Run Than NM

According to an annual survey from, six states are worse run than New Mexico. That is to say, New Mexico ranks 44th on the site's annual survey of how well states are run.

In order, the states following New Mexico are: Nevada, New Jersey, Arizona, Illinois, Rhode Island and California.

North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah and Iowa are the five best run states. Interesting that four of the five border one another. Our friends in Mississippi are 40th.

44. New Mexico
> Debt per capita: $4,261 (15th highest)
> Budget deficit: 9.1% (tied-39th largest)
> Unemployment: 7.4% (tied-18th lowest)
> Median household income: $41,963 (8th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 21.5% (2nd highest)

While New Mexico’s unemployment rate of 7.4% was 1.5 percentage points below the national figure, the average citizen isn’t that well off. New Mexico had the second-highest poverty rate in the country in 2011, with 21.5% of residents living below the poverty line. The state exported just $1,003 worth of goods per capita in 2011, the second lowest amount of all states.

The state currently has some challenges, much of which are beyond its control. It has spent significant resources putting out a massive outbreak of wildfires this summer. Another concern for New Mexico is the fiscal cliff, which could hit the state especially hard due to its heavy reliance — compared to most states — on federal spending.

Find the entire report at: The Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50 - 24/7 Wall St.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Manufacturing Hours, Wages Drop

Employees of manufacturing companies are working less and earning less,the Labor Market Review ( publication of the Department of Workforce Services reported today.

For October 2011, manufacturing workers earned an average of $16.14 per hour and worked 42.6 hours during the week. A year later in October 2012, it was earnings of $15.14 per hour and 40.6 hours of work.

That turned average October 2011 earnings of $687.56 in October 2012 earnings of $614.68.

An article on job supply and demand trends says, "In the last year, the number of unemployed has surpassed the number of job openings. The ratio of unemployed to job openings was 1.51 in September 2012, falling from 1.63 in September 2011.
In other words, in September 2012, for every one job opening, 1.51 persons were unemployed in New Mexico.

"The ratio of unemployed to openings peaked at 2.11 in February 2012, when over two people were unemployed for every one job opening that was posted. The counties with the highest ratios in September 2012 were Mora, Valencia and Hidalgo. The counties with the lowest ratios included Los Alamos, Eddy, and Lea."

So we have more interested workers than we have jobs. No wonder people drop from the labor force.

Election Column Sources Listed

In my current newspaper column, I promised to post the detail about the sources. This was because the full detail about the sources would have eaten the available column space. The list is below.

1. Rob Portman: Wall Street Journal, November 15,2012, page R15.
2. Karl Rove:
3. GOP attitudes toward women: This individual, who has about 15 years of national-level political experience, must remain anonymous.
4. John Billingsley: Op-ed, “GOP Has the Right Ideas For N.M., but Work To Do,” Albuquerque Journal, November 16, 2012, page A11.
5. Steve Terrell, political writer for The New Mexican in Santa Fe picked up Martinez’ comments in his November 16 post at Terrell linked to
6. John Hinderaker:
7. Ann Althouse:
8. Bret Stephens: Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2012:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Number One Again

Forbes released a report today ( about 11 "Death Spiral" states. We are the best.

Forbes staffer William Baldwin said, "Two factors determine whether a state makes this elite list of fiscal hellholes. The first is whether it has more takers than makers. A taker is someone who draws money from the government, as an employee, pensioner or welfare recipient. A maker is someone gainfully employed in the private sector."

The article continued, "The second element in the death spiral list is a scorecard of state credit-worthiness done by Conning & Co., a money manager known for its measures of risk in insurance company portfolios. Its formula downgrades states for large debts, an uncompetitive business climate, weak home prices and bad trends in employment."

Mississippi was number two. We are in some elite company—California, New York and Illinois are among the eleven.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NM Job Losses Beat Mississippi

West Virginia’s percentage job losses continued to beat New Mexico’s in October. West Virginia was down 1.5% over the year from October 2011. New Mexico lost 0.7%, or 5,900 jobs. New Mexico has lost jobs since June.

Five other states are in the select group of year-over-year job losers. Wage jobs in Mississippi were down 0.3%, less than half New Mexico’s loss rate. Arizona added 46,600 jobs for a 1.9% increase. Colorado was up 41,600 jobs, a 1.8% improvement.

With the year-over-year job losses, Albuquerque’s report this morning of a gross receipts tax shortfall qualifies as the least surprising event of the day. Job losses go directly to sales losses without passing Go.

The year-over-year losses were led by government, down 4,500 with 3,800 jobs gone from state government and another 1,400 from the feds. Local government added 700.

For the month from September to October, government added 2,500 jobs on a not seasonally adjusted basis with 2,000 more in state government education (universities, one supposes) and 1,600 more in local government education. This seems confusing as I thought the schools went back to work in August.

Leisure and hospitality and education and health services led the year-over-year increases with 2,500 more jobs each. Together the two sectors employ 215,000, providing more than a quarter of the state’s wage jobs.

The national laboratory-linked professional and business services sector dropped 3,400 jobs for the year including 200 in September. The sector is the state’s second largest employment category with 96,500 jobs in October after the year-over-year losses.

Construction added 1,200 jobs in October but lost another 1,300 for the year.

Los Alamos, Eddy and Lea counties continued with an unemployment rate under 4%. Luna and Mora counties remained above 11%.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Broadband Slooowww in Abq

A report of broadband speeds in cities with more than 500,000 residents puts Albuquerque fourth from the bottom ahead of technology hotspots Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and El Paso.

Albuquerque's broadband speed is 537 kilobytes per second. Austin, Texas, long since beyond having Albuquerque as much of a rival, is fastest with 841.

Google Fiber, a network being tested in Kansas City, Kansas, offers 125,000 kilobytes per second.

The story was in today's Wall Street Journal, Page A7.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Minimum Wage Hike To Cost Jobs

The increase in Albuquerque's minimum wage passed last Tuesday will cost city government $1 million/year, the city estimates. And there will be fewer employees because part timers, typically paid the minimum, will be paid more. The city to find that money somewhere and it will come through hiring fewer people. Also, people now paid the minimum can expect a small increase.

So much for helping people at the low end of the wage scale.

This comes from a conversation overheard the other night between an economist and a city official.

October Home Sales Break Rules

The rules are getting thrashed by metro Albuquerque sales of single family detached homes. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the numbers today.

Not only did October sales of 673 homes show an increase 107 units, or 19% from October 2011, sales were 20 units or three percent more than September. The year-over-year increase was not a surprise. Sales have increased all of 2012 over the previous year by percentages from 4.1% in June to 26.3% in September.

For a colder month such as October to increase from the previous month is very much a surprise. September sales dropped from August, suggesting the seasonal sales decline had started. Not quite yet.

Attached homes—condos and townhouses—did the seasonal thing, however, dropping from 61 during September to 59 in October. September condo sales were 28% ahead of September 2011.

Detach home sales prices, both median and average, dropped from September while remaining essentially unchanged from a year ago. For October, the median sales price was $166,300. The average was $202,827, the seventh consecutive above $200,000.

The number of sales pending for detached homes, 900 in October, was up two percent from September. The October figure of 673 closed sales was 76% of the 884 sales pending during September, an unusually high figure. Closed sales during one month tend to be about 69% of sales pending during the previous month. Applying that relationship to October’s 900 pending sales suggests November closed sales of 621 homes. And now it has gotten cold.

Homes sold in an average of 68 days during October, about the same average sales period since July. For first five months of 2012, the sales period was well over 80 days.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Policy Band-Aids From Barela, Jennings a Variable

Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela brought a menu of economic policy band-aids to commercial real estate developers in Albuquerque on Monday. The organization was NAIOP NM. His rhetorical bumbling (I'll be polite) was discussed in the previous post.

The policy list, presented under the mantle of a "New Century Jobs Agenda," seems mostly to be good stuff. However, the new century started 12 years ago. The proposals are technical, reflecting what I see as the Martinez administration's lack of vision. Whatever. Here is the list:

1. Allow companies to elect a single sales tax factor.
2. Cut the corporate income tax.
3. Put $10 million into the Local Economic Development Act for paying for local infrastructure for companies.
4. Put $4.75 million into JTIP, the well regarded job training program.
5. Capital outlay reform.
6. An informed consent law for the Spaceport.
7. Main Street program: Double the capital outlay money.

My problem with Main Street is that while it nicely renovates small town downtowns, it does so without regard as to whether there is a functioning economy around the community. The only difference between an empty store with a renovated facade and an empty store with a crumbling facade may well be the tax money spent on the facade.

After the election next Tuesday, Barela said the administration will "come together" (with legislators?) and see what else can be done.

Senate Pro Tem Tim Jennings of Roswell will be a variable. The Governor, through her political guru, Jay McClesky, has run a vicious campaign against Jennings. Even if Jennings loses to Cliff Pirtle, a 26-year-old high school graduate, which would surprise me a lot, Jennings' many friends in the Senate will remember and the Senate's leadership may become less conservative. If Jennings wins, he retain his strong commitment to doing good for New Mexico, but, well, he's human and he will remember.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Barela Misleads

Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela brought economic good news to commercial real estate developers in Albuquerque today. Unfortunately on one key point, he, ummmm, misspoke and on another he misled.

"Las Cruces is doing very well," Barela asserted. Not exactly. Las Cruces lost 1,500 jobs, year-over-year, according to latest job report.

The joys of New Mexico's dropping unemployment rate got Barela's kudos. Unfortunately, as apparently everyone but Barela knows, that dropping rate is solely a function of people dropping from the labor force. If these people were still in the labor force, they would be unemployed and the rate would be higher.

The occasion was the meeting of NAIOP, the commercial real estate developers group.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Double Job Dip Continues

The second dip in New Mexico’s recession continued in September, according to figures released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Services.

Between September 2011 and last month, the state lost 9,200 wage jobs. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal effects. For the month between August and September, the state gained 6,900 jobs, thanks to a 9,000-job increase in government for the month. Nearly all the government jobs—8,600 in total—were in education, the result of students from prekindergarten to university returning to school. For the year, government lost 5,100 jobs.

The private sector lost 2,100 jobs between August and September and 4,100 year-over-year.

The private sector performance supports the obvious lunacy of the policy demand of the left to raise taxes to keep intact those government jobs.

Among the sectors, professional and business services led the year-over-year losers, down 3,200. The other year-over-year losers were construction, -3,000; information and other services, both down 1,200; financial, -1,000; and retail -500.

Sector winners were leisure and hospitality, up 2,700 for the year, though down 800 from August; and educational and health services, +1,000. The small sectors of mining and manufacturing, both keys to the state’s basic or core economy, added jobs, 900 and 700 respectively.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Political Direct Mail Finally Appears

The lack of direct mail advertising from political candidates has surprised me this fall. We were buried in such solicitations during the primary election.

A piece came today from the Republican Party of New Mexico. Two pages of the four-page 8.5" x 11" item attacked President Obama and Martin Heinrich, candidate for the U.S. Senate. The other two pages were an application for and absentee ballot. As such, the piece doesn't quite count as candidate direct mail.

A further curiosity is that the mailer came to my son (or current resident). He hasn't voted from my house for years. When he registered recently in New Mexico, we simply assumed that he had long since been deleted from the rolls. Just after he registered, a mail item came from the county clerk to my address, not the one where he registered. In between, he was in Colorado, registered there and voted there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Albuquerque Home Sales Up From September 2011

Albuquerque seems to have a new paradigm for selling more single family detached homes, year-over-year, in the metro area: lose jobs. The concept is bizarre, but that’s what has happened the last few months—more homes sold, continuing job loses.

September saw 653 homes sold. The performance followed the seasonal pattern of declining sales from summer months, down 78 units or 11% from August. The happy surprise is a 61-unit 26.3% increase from September 2011. The September 2012 sales even beat July and August of 2011. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the numbers today.

Buyers chose from fewer homes than a year ago when the metro had 4,703 total listings available during September. September 2012 had 4,081 listings available.

September’s sales took a little longer than during August—70 days on average versus 66 days. However the average September 2012 sale took 15 days less than during September 2011 when the sales period was 85 days.

Median and average prices increased from August and from September 2011. The September median was $172,000, up 4% from August and up 0.3% from August 2011. The average for September was 203,016, a 0.6% increase from August and 3.4% more than September 2011. The average sale price has stayed above $200,000 since April.

Using pending sales as a predictor, single family detached sales closed during October can be expected to show a further decline from September. Pending sales during September were 884 homes, a 9.3% increase from September 2012, but down 143 units or 14% from August.

The 653 sales closed during September were 64% of the 1,027 sales pending during August. If 64% of the sales pending during September closed during October, that would be 565 homes sold.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Painted Overpasses: Only in NM?

We just got back from 12 day trip that included eight days on the road. It was a ten-state circle of the midwest: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado.

A few days in, it dawned on me that I wasn't seeing the painted concrete on overpasses that exemplify wasteful spending for me.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation told me recently that money for paint comes from the feds, from something I remember being called community enhancement funds. NMDOT said it takes and spends the money in order to not create a hassle with getting the rest of the federal money.

New Mexico budgets no money for maintenance—i.e., repainting, allowing the colored overpasses to become gray and slimy-looking over time.

OK. But what about these other states? To be sure, I didn't check off the overpasses as we passed under. Still, I don't remember painted concrete on overpasses. For sure, I don't remember any from when I started paying closer attention in South Dakota. Sometimes the steel supports are green. And Wheatland, Wyoming, has lovely sculptured steel supports on two bridges that are dark blue. The concrete remains concrete-colored.

Clearly something different happens here, something Lew Wallace noticed decades ago.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Class B Road Maintenance, An Approach For NM?

In executing the necessary rethinking of transportation in New Mexico, here is a possibility.

Iowa has what it calls Class B maintenance. This was what the sign said on the entrance to a "road" (trail, really) outside a small south Iowa community east of Interstate 25. A gate barred entrance to the road. We didn't check to see if the gate could be opened. The sign cautioned drivers that they entered at their own risk.

The road offered plenty of weeds.

The difference with New Mexico is that the Iowa approach explicitly people informs what isn't happening, namely maintenance. New Mexico neither maintains roads, nor tells anyone.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Worst State Economy in Nation, Right Here in New Mexico

New Mexico had the nation’s worst state economy for the year between August 2011 and August 2012.

We lost 12,400 wage jobs between August 2011 and August 2012. The seasonally unadjusted numbers were released yesterday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Services.

Our 1.7% job decline led the nation, the BLS said. New Mexico’s month-over-month percentage loss of 0.7% was third nationally. The performance was the third losing month after ten months of tiny gains.

Of the 27 states with statistically significant annual changes in employment, New Mexico was the only one to lose jobs. The 5,900 job decline between July and August was also statistically significant.

Neighboring states of Oklahoma and Texas posted annual wage job gains of 2.9% and 2.5% to rank second and third nationally behind oil-booming North Dakota, up 6.7%. Arizona, Colorado and Utah added jobs for the year.

Remember, these numbers are not seasonally adjusted. That means it really mattered for the overall July-to-August performance of the state economy that teachers went back to work during August and added 2,700 jobs. For the year, though teacher job numbers didn’t matter much, posting a 200-job increase.

Sector performance for the year included: construction -3,000; other services -2,600; information, -1,000; finance, -1,600; professional and business services, -5,700; and state government, -3,700.

If one can trust the statistics—and I think the situation is maybe, maybe not—the rural counties took the job hit over the August to August year. That’s because three of the metro areas show employment increases with only Farmington a loser, down 1,518 for the period. Las Cruces and Santa Fe had miniscule increases at 188 and 125 respectively. Albuquerque was up 1,853, all of one half of one percent.

The figures above are for “employment,” which come from a survey, rather than wage jobs, which are produced by a count. The figures share DNA, as it were, but they are different. A problem with all the numbers here is the continuing “discussion,” shall we say, between New Mexico labor economists and the federal BLS. The feds are boss, so they win, but our people aren’t happy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Close Camino Real Center

It's been a while since I had the opportunity to question the value of the Camino Real Heritage Center. The Center is four miles off on the mesa from an I-25 interchange that is a mile north of the rest stop at mile post 111 that is half way between Las Cruces and Albuquerque.

Today we had the opportunity for a stop at the rest stop.

I noticed this sign posted between the bathroom entrances, an easy way to get attention. Clearly a desperate attempt to draw people to the center, it claims that the center is one of New Mexico's best museums, something that isn't true, though I suppose one could invent a "best museums" scale. The center can be seen from the rest stop, a speck on the horizon.

The center is off on the horizon, a speck to the left of the walk in the center of the picture. The photo is from my iPhone. The distant detail is beyond the capacity of the phone camera and nearly everyone with the slightest potential interest.

If Susana is serious about reducing government in New Mexico, she would close the center.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Abq August Homes Sales Stay the Course, Increase Slightly

Sales closed for single family detached homes during August nudged slightly ahead of July—all of 12 units from 719 in July to 731 in August—while the number of pending sales dropped from 1,057 in July to 1,027 in August.

After May, when 737 homes sold, August was Albuquerque’s second best sales month of 2012. The pending sales figure broke 1,000 for the third consecutive month.

For each of the past three months, closed sales have been 69% of sales pending during the previous month. The relationship, if it holds for September, suggests 709 sales this month.

Condominium / townhouse sales during August totally blew the pending sales-sales closed pattern. August saw 86 townhouse sales closed, 72% jump from August 2011. That was seven more sales closed than the 79 pending sales registered during July.

Both pending sales and closed sales were nicely ahead of 2011, up 17% and 13.2% respectively, according to the monthly sales report from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released this afternoon.

Those homes sold during August were on the market an average of 66 days, one more than during July and 13.2% faster than the 76-day average sales period during August 2011.

Median and average sales prices during August continued the pattern from 2010 and 2011 and dropped from July. The August median price ($165,000) and the average price ($201,833) were both just above the August 2011 figures.

Friday, September 7, 2012 Gives NM C-

Look at the photos of the staff of and you will see your basic group of twenty-somethings staffing an internet firm. Thumbtack's schtick, it says, is that you identify the service professional you need such as for health and beauty, lessons or for the home. "We'll identify verified service pros based on your specific needs. Available service pros will submit quotes for you to compare. You choose and hire the service pro that's right for you."

Thumbtack has some credibility. With the Kauffman Foundation, a well regarded business support group,Thumbtack surveyed 6,000 small business owners around the nation about small business friendliness and gave grades. New Mexico got a C-.

Fs came for the tax code, licensing and employment, labor and hiring. Hiring costs and ease of starting a business got a D with D+ for regulations.

Our only A was for networking.

New Mexico makes the top five for difficulty in starting a business. "New Mexico fared poorly along a variety of metrics. The state received a D and ranked sixth-worst nationwide for ease of starting a business. And the state is the fifth-most costly nationwide for hiring a new employee."

Thumbtack is based in San Francisco with support staff in Las Vegas (Nevada, no doubt) and in the Philippines.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Tony Hillerman's Landscape" Selling Steadily

About 8,000 of the original 10,000 copy printing of "Tony Hillerman's Landscape" have sold. The estimate come from Anne Hillerman, daughter of Tony and author of the book. Don Strel, Anne's husband, took the marvelous photographs.

Anne has to have autographed several thousand of those sales. She and Don seem to have den everywhere since publication. The concept is that Anne and Don selected a brief passage from one of Papa Tony's Navajo detective novels and then went to that place. Anne described the place and Don took photos.

We got our most recent copy Saturday (9/1) at the Santa Fe farmers market where Anne was signing under the corporation umbrella, as it were, of the Collected Works bookstore. The book purchased Saturday was a "thank you" for Greg Flynn who is close to completing a lovely remodel for us. The remodel consisted mostly of a carport and portal across the from of our house in Albuquerque. The carport was necessary to shelter the car, a nice car, a Toyota Avalon, we got a year ago.

Flynn's company is Flynn & Smith LLC. Cell is 505-400-1862.

At the mob-scene farmers market was also got a bunch of lamb from Antonio Manzanares for my mom. Manzanares company is Shepherd's Lamb. See

Manzanares, of Tierra Amarilla, was one of the founders of the Ganados del Valle co-op maybe 35 years ago. Ganados has a beautiful rug sales operation in Los Ojos.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Starbucks and Sustainability Rule Offices

Metro Albuquerque area commercial real estate developers got the word from two national figures today. Some fly-over feeling threaded the talks which might be expected as these were national level people, concerned by definition with larger cities. Still, the material was interesting.

The speakers were San Jose-based David Pogue of San Jose, California, global director of sustainability for CB Richard Ellis, and Jeff Langdon, of the Santa Fe-based Rosemont Realty Services.

Sustainability in commercial real estate is about saving money and, though Pogue didn’t say so explicitly, for larger firms sucking up to the environmental coercion from the far left such as the Sierra Club. The green measure is an Energy Star label and / or being LEED certified.

The economic part is simple; use less energy and costs drop, meaning that, other things like rent equal, the building makes more money and, over time, grow in value.

The political part is a bit scary. Some larger cities are requiring that new construction be LEED certified. Large tenant improvements are getting the same requirement. Pogue sees a future where every light bulb (I think I got that right) will have a URL address. Big Brother will be in the building management business.

Cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and New York love the stuff. Mining companies are big on using less energy, which figures since they are in the business, understand the issues and are prime targets of the enviros. The two greenest cities, according to CoreNet, a consultancy, are Denver and Houston, home to mining and oil and gas firms.

Langdon started with the good old days when people worked in buildings and the common lease was 15 years with no cancellation clause. Today people work everywhere, The leases are more like ten years with a cancellation and maybe three years.

A big change is that accounting regulators say leases must be on the books. This will force shorter leases because firms don’t want to recognize that long term liability.

Starbucks is the new king of office space, Langdon said. This goes with my realization of a few years ago that Starbucks didn’t sell coffee, they rent table space. The price of the coffee is the rent for the table.

Still, Langdon said, “the basic office building” model remains the same. Space is customized for tenants. Transactions are expensive and slow. Owners get income from rent.

For the future some customers are saying they want to use the product—the office building—differently. A declining number of square feet per employee is one sign. In 1990 the space was 300 to 350 square feet per employee. In 2010 it was 200 to 220. The forecast is for 150 square feet.

For owners, the problem is that the buildings remain in place, mostly anyway. Some offices become hotels.

We have experienced this phenomenon. In 2005 in Washington, D.C., we stayed in a hotel that once was a bank. In Omaha, Nebraska, our hotel had been a creamery.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Universities May Have Incentive to Delay Graduations

The received wisdoms is that students take too long to graduate from New Mexico's colleges and universities. One at least partial explanation comes from a parent who is also an economist.

Counselors routinely tell students to take only 12 hours or four classes per semester, this parent says. This "advice," if followed, ensures that students will need something over five years to get a bachelor's degree.

I had to go to the Eastern New Mexico website is the degree requirement is 128 hours. After much looking I gave up on finding this item on the University of New Mexico site, my tiny respect for UNM taking yet another blow. But there is was on page 37 of Eastern's online catalogue.

Students taking 12 hours per semester and no summer school complete 120 hours after five years. Students taking 15 hours per semester have 120 hours, but after four years. Summer school is needed. Six hours during summer school is a chore, but more than possible.

My parent informant believes that the 12-hour per semester advice stems from the notion that 15 hours or more (Gasp!) will strain the student brain. Further, the longer students stick around, the more they pay. The lottery scholarship pays all tuition, but "only" for eight consecutive semesters.

Students taking more time that those eight semesters must come up with cash. It seems that the universities have an institutional incentive to have students take a long time graduate.

Friday, August 24, 2012

18 Other States and NM Lose Jobs in July

Once again New Mexico lost jobs from the previous year. July is the month in question today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the state numbers last Friday and the Department of Workforce Services added details today.

The loss was 2,800 wage jobs on a seasonally unadjusted basis from July 2011. New Mexico was one of 19 states to lose jobs for the period, the BLS said.

The metro areas led the way with all four losing jobs. The total metro job loss was 5,000 from July 2011 through July 2012. That means the rural counties gained 2,200 jobs, reducing the total loss to the 2,800 reported.

Albuquerque led the lost way with 1,900 jobs gone away, followed by Santa Fe which was down 1,200. Las Cruces was close with 1,100 jobs lost. Farmington, the smallest population metro, lost the least, with 800 jobs gone.

Albuquerque’s job losses “improved,” if that’s the word, from a June 2011 to June 2012 loss of 3,700 jobs.

Statewide, DWS said, educational and health services, up 3,200 jobs, again posted the largest year over year increase, followed by leisure and hospitality (i.e. tourism), up 2,800. Mining gained 1,400 jobs, continuing more than two years of growth. Manufacturing added 1,000.

Professional and business services led the lost way, down 4,400 jobs, year-over-year. Speculation from the Martinez administration at this week’s LFC meeting suggests the losses are national laboratory related. Lab contractors are the first to shed employees.

DWS guesses that Las Cruces losses have to do with New Mexico State University and school districts. These jobs will return.

Unfortunately the DWS job report is politicized. The Martinez administration won’t let DWS say that job losses are bad. Well, if jobs losses can't be called "bad," are the losses good. Neutral?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

TLR and DQ's Blue Corn Bourbon

The stop sign this morning hosting the TLR sign is at U.S. 64 and N.M. 434, north of the main part of Angel Fire. TLR means "The Lone Ranger," a movie in production starring Johnny Depp as Tonto.

We were told that today's filming was somewhere near Cimarron. The people sharing the Sunset Grill with us last night at dinner appeared to be movie production staff. The Grill is at the base of the Angel Fire ski hill.

We first found TLR signs a couple of weeks ago as we drove along N.M. 485 from N.M. 4 toward the Gilman Tunnels. I had noticed the signs but could conjure no meaning. Then, an open area was parked with trailers and RVs. My observation was, "Movie shoot." Some people wee chatted with at the tunnels said it was "The Long Ranger."

DQ is the Don Quixote Distillery and Winery ( and, specifically for us, means the Don Quixote Blue Corn Bourbon Whiskey, which we learned existed yesterday. Cindy Capelli told us about DQ when we visited yesterday at the Vivac

winery. Capelli's new business is New Mexico Wine and Scenic Tours ( At Vivac she was leading two young women from Bristol, UK, who are on a two-week tour of the American southwest.

DQ has a two-page feature in the just released September issue of New Mexico Magazine.

The idea of bourbon made from blue corn gets two reactions. First is, huh? Then comes, cool.

DQ's new semi-Santa Fe tasting and sales outlet is located along U.S. 84/285 at the exit to go to Los Alamos.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ds Have Already “Destroy(ed) Medicare As We Know It"

“Destroy Medicare As We Know It”

That’s the fiendish horror which Democrats accuse Republicans of planning. The phrase is the apocalyptic specter which Democrats invoke when speaking of possible changes in Medicare, especially the changes proposed in the House of Representatives budget by Rep. Paul Ryan, now the Republicans candidate for vice president with Mitt Romney.

Changing Medicare, narrowly taken, does in fact mean ending Medicare as we know simply because any change means ending the old and bringing in something new.

In their stock phrase, the Ds are saying, basically, don’t change Medicare and, by extension, don’t change Medicaid and Social Security. This is a disservice to the American people, to put it politely. That’s because the entitlement programs—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—must change before they financially destroy the country.

To argue otherwise is to lie to the people. Of course the phrase is not a policy argument, it seeks to create fear of the Rs and therefore generate votes for Ds.

In addition to being hypocritical, deceitful and dishonorable, to the extent that the Ds phrase pushes the scary status quo for entitlement programs and a good thing, it also is a lie. That’s because the Ds have already changed Medicare.

In the heavy duty angst that has followed Ryan’s VP anointment, a new number has appeared from conservative research gnomes—$716 million. That’s the amount the president’s health care law pulls from Medicare. (As to exactly how, you will have to look around.) But the point is that the President has already “destroyed Medicare as we know it.” Further, the President claims that Ryan’s plan would cost seniors an extra $6,400 per year. I read today that this number came with huge caveats from the Congressional Budget Office, might apply in 2022 and has nothing to do with the current Romney-Ryan proposal.

Not too bad, lying on both sides of an issue. The American people are pretty smart. I hope they figure all this out. Romney and Ryan will have to help the education. I trust they won’t be nice.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Metro Abq Home Sales Up in July

As was suggested in this space a month ago that might happen, July sales of single family detached homes increased after a dip in June from May. The suggestion—fingers were crossed—came from The increase in pending sales in June over May led to the hope that July sales would increase over June.

July closed sales were 719 homes with 685 sales in June, according to figures just posted by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors. Both figures were 69% of the respective previous month’s pending sales.

July closed sales were the second highest of 2012, behind the 737 sales during May.

Prices were steady during July. Both average ($210,685) and median ($175,000) prices dropped slightly from July 2011, but increased from June. The median price went back to the May figure and tied for the year’s highest. Average prices have been around $210,000 for the past four months.

The 4,152 active listings available during July were down 18% from July 2011. Active listings have dropped about 20% as compared to 2011 during the seven months of 2012. The smaller inventory is finally turning into faster sales. During July the average home sold in 65 days, the shortest sales period in months and months.

Townhouses and condominiums, except for a 94 day average sales period, showed a nice contract with July 2011 with increases in pending and closed sales and both the average and median price.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Feds Are the Ones Requiring Painted Overpasses. NM DOT Has No Repainting Money.

Yesterday, as part of a background conversation for my coming column, the New Mexico Department of Transportation told me that pretty overpasses are a function of the requirement to spend federal money for what is called "transportation enhancements." These include the sculptural overpasses on the new U.S. 285 north of Santa Fe and the painted overpasses on I-25 south of Albuquerque. I think the sculptural ones are cool and the painted ones look dumb.

That's OK, I suppose, but the problem is that maintenance falls to NMDOT which budgets exactly zero dollars for maintaining these pretty things. That means the painted ones won't be repainted, thereby becoming trashy looking over time. Nor will be sculptural ones be fixed when they fall apart, which is happening now, due to the use of poor quality concrete (or something). Spending the enhancement money is part of getting road money. DOT needs the road money, so it does the enhancements.

The enhancements may well enhance, but inherently this derives from someone’s value system. And who, pray tell, might that be? Part of the charade is that communities get to talk about the enhancements and thereby feel good.

It's the old federal carrot-stick (or something like that) bludgeon that grows government.

DOT puts safety as job one (thank you Ford Motor Co.). Safety starts with stripes. That means the gap between the budget and the “ought to spend” is fairly small, “only” 18% as compared to 66% for maintenance. I lacked the time to explore the issue of road stripes disappearing at night and in the rain.

If safety really is job one, then why do some things change after 50 or so years of working fairly well. For example, St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe now has large bright yellow signs at the St. Michael’s Drive interchange proclaiming a “merger area alert” or something like that. (I didn’t write the copy.) The interchange has been in place for decades, merging traffic and all, without signs.

What changed? My guess is that change has to do with sign standards being a moving horizon. There is a thick federal item, I learned—the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, aka MUTCD, that is constantly revised by a group of state people and feds.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Obama Context: The Four Paragraphs

These four paragraphs provide the immediate context for President Obama's statement to people who think they have built businesses that, "you didn’t build that." The paragraphs are copied from the 5,533-word address given July 13 in Roanoke, Virginia. The entire text can be found at For "Press Office" and then go down the list by date.

In my column there wasn't space to deal with the sneering reference in the first paragraph... "it must be because I was just so smart." Remember that one from the playground. It went, "You think you're soooo smart." From the playground to the President in Roanoke, the line drips with contempt and arrogance.

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

"So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President -- because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together."

Friday, July 27, 2012

No New News: NM Economy Trails Neighbors

The Labor Market Review, released this afternoon by the Department of Workforce Solutions, compared wage job growth rates, not seasonally adjusted, of the western states. With a 0.2% decline, New Mexico is the only one of the nine to have lost jobs between June 2011 and June 2012.

Two others, Wyoming and Nevada, were behind the national job growth of 1.3%.

Utah led the nine states with June to June job growth of 2.6%. Oklahoma followed with 2.5% with Arizona at 2.4%, Texas, 2.2%; California, 2%; and Colorado, 1.4%.

Friday, July 20, 2012

NM Leads Nation in June Job Loss

Between May and June, what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “non-farm payroll employment” dropped 0.5% in New Mexico, which tied for the percentage loss lead with Vermont and Wisconsin. The month-over-month loss was 4,000 jobs. The state also lost 1,700 wage jobs between June 2011 and June 2012.

Wage jobs employed 804,800 New Mexicans during June. Over the month, non-farm payroll employment, also called wage jobs, grew in 29 states and dropped in 21. The BLS released the figures today.

“Employment,” a different measure from wage jobs, dropped 100 from May to be 866,800 without seasonal adjustment. Unemployment grew by 6,400, an event this time of year due to high school and university graduations.

All four state metro areas added employment between June 2011 and June 2012, a highly unusual happening the past few years. The Department of Workforce Services released seasonally unadjusted figures today. Employment in the Albuquerque metro area increased 1,821, year-over-year. Las Cruces employment grew by 1,857. Santa Fe employment was up 1,525. In Farmington, employment grew by 853.

Year-over-year sector seasonally unadjusted performance departed from past trends with 200 more jobs in construction and a nice 1,100-job, or 4%, increase in manufacturing.
Other than that, it was the usual suspects with the usual performance: professional and business services, down 4,100; and information and other services, both down 1,200.

Educational and health services, with 4,300 more wage jobs, as usual led the sectors adding jobs. Leisure and hospitality (i.e., tourism) added 2,100, with mining up 1,600, wholesale trade up 500 and finance up 300.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eclipse Gets Wall Street Journal Report

Journalists and journalistic enterprises aren’t supposed to endorse companies and products. So maybe it wasn’t an endorsement. Maybe it was cold-hearted journalistic judgment. But Eclipse Aerospace Inc. got a very nice back-from-the-dead story today from the Wall Street Journal.

The story, on page B1, summarized the disaster that was Eclipse Aviation Inc., which promised a six-passenger jet costing less than $1 million. “The tiny jet’s vision was bold,” the WSJ said today. Also insane.

The WSJ story paralleled what we have heard in Albuquerque—a careful, cautious approach with control of the supply chain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Home Sales, Prices Down From May, Up From 2011

After a series of month-over-month increases starting in January, the number of single family detached homes sold in metro Albuquerque dropped in June to 685 homes from 737 sold during May. That’s a 52-unit, or 7%, decline from May. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the June sales report late this afternoon.

The good news is that June closed sales continued the string of year-over-year increases from 2011 with a 27-unit, or 4.1% improvement from June 2011. Further good news is that June pending sales showed a 50-unit, or 5%, increase from May. June’s 1,047 pending sales were 13 units above April and 103 units, or 12.1%, above June 2011. The increase in June pending sales suggests that closed sales might improve during July.

Average and median sales prices dropped in June from May. The average price, $207,679, was down $3,534, or 2%, from May but increased slightly—$637, or 0.31%—from June 2011. The median sales price during June—$172,700—was down $2,300, or 1.3%, from May. The median price increased 3.7%, or $6,200, from May.

Townhouses and condominiums showed a 49% increase in closed sales in May to 85 units over May 2011. Sales of these attached homes went the other way during June with 39 sales, a 36% drop from June 2011.

The average metro home sold in June sold after 76 days on the market. That’s a ten day drop from the 86-day average sales period during May and down four days or 5% from June 2012.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

News Flash, Winston. Teacher Information Release Incredible

The idea that the Albuquerque Teachers Federation gets the contact information plus social security number for non-union member teachers is just incredible. That Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent is “OK” with releasing the contact information, as the Albuquerque Journal put it July 8 also is incredible.

Brooks’ acceptance of this invasion contained two elements. Other districts do it, he said. That everybody does it has to rank as just about the laziest, least valid excuse for anything. The second element brings the question of Brooks connection to the real world.

As the Journal quoted Brooks, he said, “I am less bothered by the name, address and phone number given that most of us who have a telephone get (our) name, address and phone number put in the phone book.” At least Brooks is bothered by the union getting the social security number.

Well, Winston, a whole bunch of us don’t. My phone number has been unlisted since 1990, the result of telephone harassment disturbing my then wife. My present wife (how to state that without awkwardness…) hasn’t had a listed number for decades. For her it was the whole issue of being a single woman.

For more than a year, we have been in the vanguard of change in telephony. We dumped our land line and only have cell phones.

Federation President Ellen Bernstein said unions “have an obligation and a right to inform and organize.” Another “I” word is in the equation—intimidate.

In the fifth paragraph of the story and still on page one, the Journal commendably noted that Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and Central New Mexico Community College do not provide access to teacher’s home contact information.

Friday, June 29, 2012

New City Population Numbers Out; Grenville Leads the Losers.

New population estimates for New Mexico’s towns, villages and cities appeared this week. The Census Bureau calls them “incorporated places. The state has 101.

Albuquerque led the population gainers in number with 6,951 new residents. The 1.27% growth was a mere 27th.

The Tularosa Basin was the percentage winner with Tularosa up 3.1% for the year (+88), followed by Alamogordo up 3.04% (+924). Cloudcroft, which overlooks Tularosa, Alamogordo and Whites from 9,000 feet, added 21 residents for 3.12% growth.

The two percentage growth leaders were little guys on the plains. Dora added five people to lead the state with 3.78% growth and Elida grew 3.55% with seven new residents. Together, Dora and Elida had 342 residents in July 1, 2011, according to Census Bureau estimates. Elida is in Roosevelt County, on U.S. 70, southeast of Portales by 19 miles.

Dora failed to make my AAA atlas of North America, but it does exist, according to the state’s map. Like Elida, Dora is in Roosevelt County, forming a nice triangle by being 17 miles due south of Portales and 19 miles due east of Elida at the intersection of N.M. 206 and N.M. 114. Roosevelt County may have some kind of population boom happening. Portales, the big city in the area with 12,641 residents that reflect 361 new folks for the year, a 2.94% increase that was seventh in the state.

Clovis and its suburb, Texico, both grew 2.65% during the 2010 – 2011 year with, respectively, 1,001 and 30 new residents.

Las Cruces edged toward the 100,000 population mark with 99,665 residents for July 1, 2011, an increase of 2,047 people and 2.1% growth. Add Mesilla, which is next door to Las Cruces and grew 2.10% and the total becomes 114,000.

Led by Corrales with 2.07% growth and Rio Rancho with 1,799 new residents for the year and 2.06% growth to a population of 89,320, there were eight metro Albuquerque communities with faster percentage growth than the Duke City. The other six were Cuba, Bernalillo, Bernalillo, Jemez Springs, San Ysidro, Tijeras and Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. Cuba, Bernalillo and Jemez Springs are in the four-county Albuquerque metro by virtue of being in Sandoval County.

Santa Fe added 695 people for 1,02% growth and a 2011 population of 68,642.

The population losers group boasts 41 communities. Taos lost three residents for a 0.05% decline. Grenville was the biggest percentage loser, down 5.26% and two people for a population of 36. Fort Sumner dropped below 1,000 residents with a 39-person, 3.78% loss.(second in the state)

The biggest lowers came in the Farmington metro, i.e., San Juan County, Farmington dropping 621 people, or 1.35%, to 45,256, Bloomfield losing 114 and Aztec down 96.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

UNM Touts Better Birdhouse

Really. And seriously.

No tongue in cheek here. No introductory statement along the lines of, "This might sound silly, but it really isn't."

The headline said, "Architecture Students Build Better Birdhouse." The houses—for birds, bats and ducks—are in the south valley part of the Rio Grande bosque.

The ulra-straight story and headline would have been fine except for the location, location, location as the lead in the "UNM ConnectEd PR" tabloid inserted in today's Albuquerque Journal.

For the tens of thousands of readers who don't get beyond the second paragraph, we have UNM being proud of birdhouses. Whoopee. Allowing such as impression bespeaks cluelessness on the part of UNM's marketing staff which produced the publication.

A better lead would have been the page four story about Martian carbon. Exotic and cool. The birds houses could have planted on page four.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

NM Loses Jobs in May. Santa Fe Leads Metro Growth.

About 3 P.M. Friday the Department of Workforce Services passed along the May job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. DWS wrote in jargon, saying “The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing May 2012 with May 2011, was negative 0.2 percent, representing a loss of 1,500 jobs.” The Albuquerque Journal’s Saturday brief picked up the jargon, referring to negative growth.

The negative growth came in government with a 4,000 job loss from May 2011 to May 2012 that wiped out private sector production of 2,500 over the year. The federal government lost 1,600 jobs, year over year, with state government down 2,200 and local government down 200. Between April and May, government lost another 3,500 jobs with about half from education.

On an annual basis the sector gainers continued to be education and health services (+4,600), leisure and hospitality (+2,300) and mining (+1,900, almost a 20% gain).

The annual sector losers were professional and business services (-3,800), information (-800), and construction (-700).

New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted 5,200-job drop from April to May was considered statistically significant by the BLS. The state’s May to May seasonally adjusted loss of 4,200 jobs was statistically insignificant.

Metro Albuquerque gained 2,334 jobs, on a seasonally unadjusted basis, year over year. The percentage gain is tiny, two-thirds of one percent, but job growth in Albuquerque is essential for New Mexico to grow. For May 2012, metro Albuquerque provided 42.6% of the state’s employment.

Farmington gained all of 457 jobs during the year. The percentage gain was 0.89, a bit better that Albuquerque.

Las Cruces add 973 jobs, year over year. The increase was 1.14%.

The year brought 2,227 jobs to Santa Fe, making the City Different with a healthy increase of 3.19%. Santa Fe’s unemployment rate was 4.9% for May 2012, down nearly a point from May 2011. The improvement came as 1,656 people joined the labor in metro Santa Fe during the past year.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Home Sales Continue To Increase, Prices, too

If the between-the-lines body language conveys a correct impression, real estate agents around metro Albuquerque are very happy. Body language from a web page is tough, though, worse to figure than body language from a car.

Consider, however, the lead headline from the monthly statistics reporting May sales, posted late this afternoon, from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors (GAAR). “The median price for single family detached homes rose 6.06% from May 2011 and is back to 2010 levels.” No exclamation points follow the statement, but one can see the temptation to insert a half dozen or so.

The median price was $175,000 for the 737 homes sold during May 2012 and May 2010, when 731 homes sold.

During April, 604 single family detached homes sold. May was a 22% jump from April.

The other two lead headlines report that May sales of single family detached homes increased 16.6% from May 2011 and there were 997 sales pending during May, the highest May pending sales figure since 2007. That was the year of the peak, though GAAR, being good sales people didn’t mention that detail. The 997 sales pending represented a slight 37-unit drop from April but a 10.9% jump from May 2011.

May sales of 737 homes were 71% of the April pending sales. From 60% to 80% of pending sales turn into closed sales the following month. Continuing the sales growth will means that a higher percentage of the May pending sales will need to close this month.

The average sales price was $211,213 during May, a wisp of a $27 increase from April, but a 6.6% jump from $198,091 during May 2011. Three homes sold for $1 million or more during May. There were five such sales during May 2011 and one during May 2010.

The homes aren’t exactly jumping off the shelves, as it were. The average home sold in 86 days during May, up from 83 in March and April but a day faster than the 87 shown in the cold period of January and February.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Columbus Makes National News

The village of Columbus the weekend lead story. Here is the link:

Though it doesn't seem possible, Columbus is in a bigger mess than Sunland Park.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Voting System Fails "Convenience" Premise

“Mixed Review,” proclaimed the headline on the Albuquerque Journal’s story today about the new voting approach in Bernalillo County.

I disagree. The system fails to deliver the promised convenience.

To start, consider the premise. Truncating the number of polling places from 180 to 69 and promising convenience requires a huge blowing of smoke that apparently has been successful. No one has examined the premise. Let’s see: About a third the number of locations and more convenience?

The second, barely touched upon problem is the math. To take the number of voters from each of the old locations and project them to the new locations would be straightforward, except that now people can vote anywhere. Randomness has entered the voter projections projection by location and clearly County Clerk Maggie Toulouse hasn’t figured out how to make the projections.

A little lie—but still a lie—came at my chosen polling place, Montezuma Elementary School. The poll worker said the new system was more convenient because you didn’t have to sign your name twice, as was the case under the old system. In fact, now one must sign once. The time saved: 10 seconds.

There is no way to measure, but I’m confident that the new system of finding the voter name in the data base and producing a custom ballot takes longer than old “inconvenient” two-signature approach.

At 5:15 P.M. yesterday, Montezuma had a small line going out the door. It was a hassle, however, because entrance chosen for the Montezuma gym, the polling place, was a single door, therefore forcing voters to squirm by one another while entering and leaving. One man looked at the line and left. Come November, that outdoor line will drive away more voters and seriously inconvenience more.

Even with all this, Montezuma worked much better for my 92-year-old walker-using mother than did Jefferson Middle School for the city election last year. The entry area was flat and easy to access by car.

I’ll concede the new system one thing, an old thing, actually—the paper ballot. I feel better with that piece of paper around somewhere.

Finally, that it takes longer to produce results from the new, alleged more automated system, is just absurd.

See my October 5, 2011, post about the wonders of voting at Jefferson:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

UNM's Diana Northup Part of Famous Slime Team

Extremophiles are “lovers of extreme conditions,” explains an article titled, “Some Like It Very Hot,” in the “Intelligent Life” insert in the May 12 edition of “The Economist.” Extremophile creatures live in place unavailable to people—1.6 km under the ocean seabed, next to seabed hot vents and in Mexican caves full of hydrogen sulphide.

The Mexican caves are of interest to Diana Northup, a University of New Mexico biology professor. The walls are covered with bacteria Northup calls “slime” that excrete concentrated sulphuric acid that eats he cave walls.

Northup says, “Yes, we were pretty narrow in our thinking. That’s what extremophiles have done for biology. They’ve opened our eyes… if you only think about life in terms of your condition, you can miss a lot of what’s going on in the planet.”

Four others at UNM are considered members of the Slime Team. The website is: “Slime” is an acronym for “Subsurface Life in Mineral Environments.”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Job Growth Rate Ties For Lowest

Late Friday the Department of Workforce Services released the new edition of its monthly Labor Market Review newsletter. A late Friday release is a standard PR ploy with the objective of being ignored.

Being ignored was pretty much fine for the newsletter content, except for one item. New Mexico tied with three other state for the lowest rate of job growth between April 2011 and April 2012. The others in the lowest growth group were Alaska, Connecticut and Missouri.

Seven sates lost jobs over the year.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"Visiting," Considered, And Political Donations

The late Gov. Bruce King taught me about visiting. I interviewed him at his home in Stanley. This was in late 1978, just before his second term started. Actually, I didn’t lead the interview. I took a freelancer along because I felt unable to take King seriously, what with his “mighty fine” persona and all.

We visited. In the kitchen of the King home. Around the table. Drinking coffee. For three hours. The group included Gov. King; Alice, his wife and true partner; brothers Sam and Don; and sons Gary, now attorney general, and Bill.

Well before the conversation ended, I was in awe of King. He and his family provided a complete communication. We had visited. Visiting is about communication and relationships.

Visiting is what I think Republican State Senate candidate Pat Woods does when he talks to people. I haven’t met Woods. In this week’s newspaper column, I offered a brief theoretical consideration based on the broad and rural concept of visiting for Woods’ donations to Democrats over the years, donations that have drawn the always nasty rhetorical wrath of Susana Martinez political henchman Jay McCleskey. The column length of around 600 words limited the analysis.

This is theory. But I have enough experience in rural areas to believe the theory is in the vicinity. First, let’s attest to Woods’ conservativeness. He has regularly donated to Congressman Steve Pearce, who is a good working definition of being really, really conservative.

One of the Democratic candidates getting a Woods donation was Craig Cosner of Tucumcari. I haven’t met Cosner.

My Google search surfaced these items about Cosner that add to conservative. He is from Tucumcari. He is a retired banker. Given Tucumcari’s location, much of Cosner’s banking work will have involved agriculture. Woods is a farmer and rancher from the Clovis area. He will have known Cosner. They will have visited, had some coffee somewhere, more than once. Even if Woods and Cosner aren’t friends, they will have been in the same circles for a long time. That sort of relationship means that if one party to the relationship runs for office, the other gives some money.

Woods isn’t perfect. In 2002, he made a small donation to Patsy Madrid, a super liberal. Such a donation is inexplicable to me.

But then some time back I sat in on the donations committee of a construction industry professional group. The committee approved a small donation to a state senator of my acquaintance, one who I felt was the enemy of all thing capitalist.

Communication was the reason for the donation—keeping the lines open. Communication is the reason for a good many political donations. Organizations, business organizations in particular, want to maintain relationships, the keep the legislative boat stable. Winning is not the issue much of the time.

The Jay McCleskey’s live in a different world. Winning is the only thing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

State Gains Jobs In April—Barely

The New Mexico economy split the job difference in April with tiny wage job growth statewide of 0.1% and employment (different from wage jobs) increases in three metro areas and losses in one. The state now has added wage jobs for nine months, the Department of Workforce Services said in the FRiday, May 18, news release. DWS didn’t call attention to the just-barely status of the April growth.

Statewide, the leading April 2011 to April 2012 the wage job increases came in education health services (+5,000), mining (+2,100) and leisure and hospitality (+1,400). The leading sector losers were professional and business services (-3,400), government (-2,000) and construction (-1,300).

State government education lost 1,100 wage jobs, year over year, but overall, gained 100, meaning that the rest of state government added 1,200 jobs. Government—federal, state and local—remains New Mexico’s largest employment sector with just under 25% of the 808,600 wage jobs in April 2012.

Retail trade, the remaining large sector with 90,100 jobs, gained 600 jobs over April 2011. Manufacturing, especially important because most of its jobs produce goods exported from the state, added 300 wage jobs over the year for a total of 29,400.

Metro Albuquerque employment grew 3,937 to 371,108 (1.1%), year-over-year. Santa Fe employment added 1,827 jobs, a decent 2.7% increase to 71,539. Las Cruces employment grew slightly with 810 more jobs, a 1% addition to 85,996.

Employment in Farmington dropped 118.

New Mexico joined nine states with statistically significant declines in the unemployment rate from March to April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. (See The state unemployment dropped 0.3 percentage points, from 7.2% in March to 6.9% in April. The unemployment rate was 7.5% in April 2012. Nothing else about the state’s April job performance was considered significant, statistically, by the BLS.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

PNM Annual Meeting Run With Total Control. Demonstrators Appear Outside.

At the annual meeting of shareholders of PNM Resources, Inc., the protesters got the headline and nearly all the story. That missed the point. But then protesters, ever theatrical, commonly get the headline while the real business goes unreported.
In previous years PNM’s annual meeting has been used as an occasion to show off the company to Albuquerque, a celebration directed especially at the individuals owning a few shares and living here. Not so at Tuesday’s meeting.

PNM’s meeting took its cues from annual meetings as an art form executed with the objective of total control. PNM’s chairman, Pat Collawn, executed the control objective perfectly. The meeting was over in 23 minutes. No one asked questions.

Perhaps 75 people attended. That included board members, staff, employees and a few regular shareholders.

After the meeting I complimented Collawn on the control of the meeting. She didn’t smile.

I was a few minutes late for the 9:00 A.M. start. Collawn was already doing her CEO address, listed as item seven on the agenda. That means she had zipped through items one through six in the near blink of an eye. Those items included electing directors and appointing the accountants.

The meeting was held in downtown Albuquerque in Alvarado Square, PNM’s soon to be abandoned signature building former headquarters that has a huge solar array on one side that hasn’t worked in decades. The entry was dark. But, yes, a security man told me, through the dark entry was the way to the meeting. The security man was one of a group of private security and city police tending the estimated 50 protesters on the sidewalk in front of Alvarado Square.

The Alvarado Square atmosphere was a long way from the relaxed and easy going situation at PNM shareholder meetings held at the South Broadway Cultural Center.

Inside, a woman stood at a high desk in the back of the lobby. She verified my name as a shareholder, checked my ID, and summoned security staff to escort me to the meeting which involved riding up one flight in the elevator. The adjacent escalator wasn’t working. Outside the elevator, the security man pointed me to another check-in table where I received the agenda and a ten-item rules and procedures sheet.

I have attended shareholders meeting for four companies, dating to Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation as a young teenager. (Sen. Clinton Anderson spoke.) Receiving such a sheet was new, at least one with the amount of detail.

The rules included these items:
“We require attendees to honor the following rules of conduct.”
“We ask you to confine questions or comments strictly to the matter that is under consideration.”
“However the business purpose of the meeting will be strictly observed” with a list of items that might be ruled out of order.

Collawn’s CEO speech was unremarkable, which I suspect was the point from my experience in having written such speeches for CEOs of Sunwest Financial Services and its predecessor, First New Mexico Bancshares. During 2011, PNM invested $251 million, $4 million more than operations produced. In 2010, the gap was $35 million.

Collawn spoke at some length of the favorable regulatory situation in Texas where investments can be recovered faster than New Mexico. (Susana Martinez take note.) Other good news was the 40% increase in the share price during 2011 and a dividend increase.

The 2013 renewable energy plan got a summary, happily minus the channeling of Al Gore laid on at previous annual meetings by Jeff Sterba, who Collawn succeeded at the PNM helm.

For the San Juan generating station, PNM has spent more than $300 million during past few years. PNM seeks a “balanced approach” to further emissions reduction. Collawn slide past the fact the demonstrators and the EPA do not want balance, but that’s what CEOs do in shareholder meetings.

Collawn treated me to another annual meeting new experience. This was the first such meeting I have attended where the CEO has worn braces.

During and after the meeting, a woman hung out in the Alvarado Square lobby, shagging passers by such as the accountants and asking questions. She told me she was not admitted to the meeting even though she had what she and her supporters thought was a legal proxy.

Audio of the meeting is available at

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Correcting" Economic Inequality & Tyranny

A 23-year-old student and avowed Communist, Camila Vallejo, has the government of free and prosperous Chile “on the run,” observes Mary Anastasia O’Grady in “Americas” column in the April 30 Wall Street Journal.

O’Grady writes, “How this (defensive posture) can be in Chile, the poster-child of liberal economic reform, is at first a puzzle. The answer—and this is a cautionary tale for Americans—may lie in Chile’s intellectual and political climate, which is desperately short of voices able to defend the morality of the market and the sanctity of individual rights.

“Even while the material benefits of the market economy have been piling up for decades, Chile has been intellectually swamped by leftist ideas. The common principle: Economic inequality is immoral and the state has an obligation to correct it.

“Rather than push back against this invitation to tyranny, the right too often cedes the moral high ground to its opponents.”

O’Grady make an error of sloppy writing, unusual for her, and slides across a fundamental point.

The writing matter is when she says, “the right too often cedes…” Saying “too often” implies the existence of an appropriately often time to cede the moral high ground. Hmmm… I doubt it.

The notion that the state has an obligation, somehow, to create economic equality (that is, “correct” economic inequality) comes with the problem that the state makes the decision about the correcting, and that, folks, is tyranny. Nor can the state delegate the decision, because, ultimately the state would be making the decision, a situation sounding like Obamacare expert boards and New Mexico’s public education hierarchy in which the state controls the money and therefore has control, board of education charades notwithstanding.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Albuquerque Home Prices Increase, Breaking Trend

During April, median and average prices for metro Albuquerque single family detached homes increased on a year-over-year basis for the first time since February 2011.

The April average price, $211,186, was the highest since February 2011 and was a 7.6% increase from April 2011. The April median, $174,775, was highest since July 2011 and up 5.9% from April 2011. The April 2012 average price was up 11% from March 2012 with the median up 9.9% from March.

With the April closed sales of 604 detached homes up just slightly from March—eight units and 1.3%—the price increases were driven by more expensive homes selling during April. Five homes valued at $1 million or more sold during the month as compared to one during March. The four price groups from $200,000 to $499,000 registered increased sales from March.

Both median and average prices scored the first April year over year increase since 2007. Closed sales were up 6.5% from April 2011.

At 1,034 for April, pending sales were up a slight 13 units from March. April pending sales increased 14.5% from April 2011, boding well for continued increases in closed sales during May.

These numbers come from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors and were posted at within the past few days.

Monday, May 7, 2012

NMSU "Gains" Football Stepchild Role

New Mexico State University has come to exemplify the futility of smaller schools in much more relevant, small televisions markets of competing in today’s college football world. That’s not fair to NMSU, which probably is beside the point.

The weekend (May 5-6) edition of the Wall Street Journal said, “New Mexico State University’s athletic department needed a 70% subsidy in 2009-2010, largely because Aggie football hasn’t gotten to a bowl game in 51 years. Outside of Las Cruces, where New Mexico State is located, how many people even know that the school has a football program? None, except maybe for some savvy contestants on ‘Jeopardy.’ What purpose does it serve on a university campus? None.”

This writer, Buzz Bissinger, is the author of “Friday Night Lights, so he knows more than a little about the broader ethos of football.

At, Stewart Mandel said, “And so, two-and-a-half years after the Big Ten first got the train rolling, the last schools left in the station appear to be Idaho and New Mexico State, the lone remaining WAC members. With their conference destroyed and no invitations pending from another league, the two may have no choice but to drop down to the FCS.”

Mandel’s article summarized the college football conference realignment frenzy of the past few years.

Last week (May 2) the Albuquerque Journal’s Randy Harrison observed, “NMSU is in Las Cruces, which is part of the 91st largest TV market in the nation, according to Nielsen. It bears mentioning that the market is El Paso. That’s home to UTEP, and UTEP gets the attention. It’s not good to be a small market program in the first place — much less sharing it with a university that’s in another conference.”

Harrison, like the world of northern New Mexico, forgot about the 1.5 million (or so) in Ciudad Juarez who watch American TV and buy American stuff. Harrison isn’t alone in overlooking Juarez. It’s just one of those annoying and continuing New Mexico realities.

My suggestion remains the same. Form a lower level football conference (Rio Grande Conference? Rocky Mountain Conference and include Idaho?) and fit football, which is a legitimate use of a Saturday afternoon for students, into an appropriate context, which the massive subsidies.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2011 Park Visits Lowest Since 1980

A quick look at the national park visitation site ( shows that 2011 visits to New Mexico's two biggest park service attractions were the lowest since 1980.
CArlsbad Caverns National Park drew about 365,000 people last year. Not only was the 2011 visit tally the lowest since 1980, it was the only year that visits were below 400,000. Visits to Carlsbad peaked at 792,000 in 1989.
Whites Sands National Monument attracted 429,000 visitors last year. The record was 667,000 in 1986. For most years during the 1990s, White Sands had just under 600,000 visitors.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Santa Fe, Las Cruces Add Jobs. Albuquerque and Farmington Don't.

Though wage employment gained 200 during March in metro Albuquerque over February, the decline was 700 from March 2011. March was the fourth consecutive month during which wage jobs have dropped from the previous year, the Department of Workforce Services said today in the Labor Market Review newsletter.

The year-over-year job change percentage rate in four-county metro Albuquerque has ranged around zero for 14 months. The greatest rate of increase for the period has been 0.5% with a 0.3% decline the lowest.

Government drove the Albuquerque decline with a 1,000-job loss. The private sector added 300 jobs. Local government lost 800 jobs for the March-to-March year in Albuquerque. The Feds dropped 500. State government grew by 300.

Albuquerque’s professional and business services sector dropped to being the metro’s second largest employer behind education and health services after a 2,100-job loss, year-over-year. The sector has lost jobs eight months in a row and now employs 54,700.

Santa Fe led annual job production among the four metros areas with a 1,600 wage job year-over-year increase that was a net of 1,800 more private sector jobs and a loss of 200 local government jobs. The private wage jobs were led by 1,200 more leisure and hospitality sector jobs.

Las Cruces produced a decent 800-job increase with 1,300 more private sector wage jobs more than offsetting 500 fewer government jobs. Federal wage employment dropped 300 and local government dropped 200.

In Farmington wage employment declined 400 between March 2011 and March 2012.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fed Explains "Mancession"

Men were hit the worst and the most during the past recession. Male employment also is recovering better than for women. Both elements have much to do with the worst hit sectors being heavy employers of men. Those are manufacturing and construction. The complete is picture is explored in EconSouth, a quarterly publication of the Federal Bank of Atlanta. See:

Here is the summary of the article.

Who Is the Most Unemployed? Factors Affecting Joblessness

The unemployment effects of the 2007–09 recession were similar to those of a rainstorm, according to "Who Is the Most Unemployed? Factors Affecting Joblessness," an article featured in the first quarter 2012 issue of EconSouth.

As staff writer Lela Somoza explains, like a rainstorm, the effects were not evenly distributed. "Some people got a little wet, and others got caught in a downpour—without their umbrellas."

The article details some of the demographic groups that were hardest hit by the most recent recession and looks at how they have fared in the recovery. Among the most high-profile demographic groups hit by the recession were men, who accounted for about three-quarters of job losses during the downturn.

Despite the deluge of stories chronicling the plight of men in the recession, it wasn't a rare phenomenon. Indeed, men have experienced higher rates of unemployment during or immediately following recessions since the early 1980s, Somoza writes.

The recovery has been somewhat of a different story, however. Since the recession ended in June 2009, women have actually been losing jobs. Citing a study by the Pew Research Center, Somoza notes that the current recovery is the first since the 1970s in which the unemployment rate for women rose while the rate for men declined.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NM Adds Jobs, Just a Few

New Mexico added another 4,000 jobs during March, the Department of Workforce Services reported late this afternoon. The growth rate from March 2011 to 2012 is a slight one half of one percent. Still job growth, however slight, continues with jobs added for eight months.

Education and health services, with 127,400 wage earners during March, added 5,800 jobs during the year to lead the growth.

Mining continued the statewide growth of around ten percent with 2,300 new wage jobs March to March for a sector total of 22,500 jobs. Leisure and hospitality, another core sectors, though one paying less mining, has a sector job total of 85,700 jobs after adding 2,200 new jobs during the year.

Construction, down 3,200 statewide, continued as the big annual loser, followed by professional and business services, minus 2,800, and government, down 1,100.

The retail and wholesale trade, finance and information sectors all added a few hundred jobs from March 2011 to March 2012.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tom Chavez Considers Hispanic Demographics

Thomas Chavez is one of New Mexico's two or three leading historians. He graciously provided some observations on the demographic changes in Hispanic New Mexicans over the past ten years. I discussed these changes in my column that currently is being printed by the ten papers around that state that subscribe to New Mexico News Services. Thanks Tom. It's a complex situation. Your views add positively to the discussion. - Harold Morgan

Whether asked during census, among friends, or in a classroom, identity has always been a fluid and sometimes controversial matter. The answer will always be given in context of the times, convenience, place, upbringing, education, etc. and it can depend on how the question is posed. Then there is the matter of how the question is interpreted. For example does the person think of identity as a culture, ethnicity, race, or place of birth? A Caucasian born in Costa Rica can see him or herself as Caucasian, Hispanic, Latino(a), or Costa Rican. Then there is the reality of mixture. Federal law states that if a person is 1/8 Native American, then that person qualifies for a “Certificate of Indian Blood” and is eligible for tribal registration. And what is a person with a Mexican father and mother from Maryland?

New Mexico has twenty-two Native American tribes, borders Mexico, and was first settled by Europeans over 400 years ago. Back then the people were identified by tribe, blood mixture, or place of birth. There were Peninsula Spaniards, Ciollos (full-blooded Spaniards born in America), mestizos (Spaniards and Indians), lobos, coyotes, sambos, Negros, mulattos, and so on. Eventually, by the eighteenth century the designations became so complicate that only the bored and very elite cared.

With Mexican independence in 1821 everyone in New Mexico became Mexicans. With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 that ended the Mexican War and made New Mexico a part of the United States there were Americans, itself a misleading and presumptuous term, Mexicans, Indians all lumped together, and Negroes (the nice version of the term more commonly used). This sometimes was simplified to Mexicans, Indians, and Anglos, which included Negroes.

On the other hand the United States did not know what to think of a population the was neither primarily Protestant nor English speaking. Nor, it seems, could they differentiate between the races. Just a dozen years before the outbreak of the Civil War, the real question was, are these people of color or not?

Suffering from the obvious prejudices of their new country some “Mexicans” pointed to their Hispanic ancestry, which predated the English roots of the United States. With reason, these people claimed to be Caucasian and Spanish albeit up to ten generations removed. Some who claimed this ancestry did so with pride and a sense of history; others made the claim to separate them from the stigma of being a Mexican. Others still tried to differentiate between themselves and recent arrivals from Mexico.

Over the years the migration north out of Mexico that began in 1598 has continued. Each generation has been culturally different from those that preceded it. And, as subsequent generations were born in New Mexico they became more distant from the first generation. This is a universal migrant story.

Moreover, all these people have intermarried. New Mexico has never been heavily populated. In the last decade or more it appears that New Mexico has had an increase of first arrivals from our neighboring country (and others further south). In addition there are people with Hispanic surnames who through generations of intermarriage would not call themselves Mexican, Hispanic, or Latino. Not surprisingly the self-identified Hispanic population is decreasing, maybe fading, in relative numbers while the self identified Mexican population is increasing with the influx of first and second generation new arrivals.

The self-identified Mexican population along the border in southern New Mexico, in the cities, and in eastern New Mexico is explained by convenience and work opportunities. The shrinking enclave of self-identified Hispanics in the northern part of the state is primarily where their ancestors settled. Of course, Hispanics as well as all the others – Mexicans, Native Americans, new arrivals from other parts of the United States – have moved to the cities for opportunity.

The census is not surprising and, in fact, reflects both reality and not. Generally it reflects reality. In particular it leaves many questions unanswered.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Abq Homes Price Down, Sales Up

Prices down. Sales up.

That’s been the metro Albuquerque real estate theme for some months now. It continued in March, according to the March sales report from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.

While month-to-month performance is subject to outside factors such as seasonality (more sales when it is warmer), more things do seem to be happening in the marketplace.

For single family detached homes, March saw 596 sales closed, an 18% or 90 unit increase from February. More important, I think, sales increased 26 units or 4.6% from February 2011.

Those 596 closed sales (most of them anyway) came from 928 deals that were pending in February. March closed sales were 64% of February pending. Pending sales hit 1,021 for March, a 10%, or 90 unit, increase from February, seasonal growth, perhaps. As compared to March 2011, the pending sales increase was 13%, or 118 units. If 64% of the March pending sales close in April, that would be 655 sales. We’ll see.

Prices remain another story. March average and median sales peaked in 2007.

The March median sales price, $159,000, was down just shy of two percent from both February 2012 and March 2011. It was a five percent decline from March 2011 for the March 2012 average price of $189,676.

Home sold in an average of 83 days during March, a bit faster than the 87-day sales period during January and February and the 86 day time during March 2011.

Townhouse and condominium sales typically are less than ten percent of the single family home sales. Townhouse/condo sales, 56 units during March were down three from March 2011. The median price dropped one percent from March 2011 while the average, $150,816, increased eight percent from March 2011.

Friday, April 6, 2012

BofA Continually Smaller in NM

The cover of the 2011 Bank of America annual report, received yesterday, says, “What’s next for Bank of America? We are transforming our company—making Bank of America simpler, more transparent, easier to do business with and focused on serving the needs of our customers and clients.”

Yeah, right.

The return of color photographs to the annual report may mean BofA feels better about itself. Xcel Energy has a different approach. Shareholders get one sheet of paper saying if you want this annual report and proxy stuff, you have to ask. No color photos, no paper at all.

Trying to sort through my mom’s BofA relationships after her mugging last year was not simple. I didn’t count the 800 numbers we called. The local staff was friendly and sort of helpful, but only up to a point. Finally, though, someone, somewhere, exercised a bit of authority and referred us to a man in Phoenix who said we were to talk to no one else at BofA and that he would take care of everything. And he did.

Woo hoo.

BofA’s history in New Mexico is one of getting smaller.

When BofA came into New Mexico in the late 1990s, it took over the market leadership of the old Sunwest Financial Services. Layoffs were one early decision. BofA gave me money and told me to go away. I did and was happy to go.

By June 30, 2000, positions switched. Wells Fargo had 107 offices, $2.45 billion in deposits and a 17.5% market share. BofA had 64 offices, $2.4 billion in deposits and 17% of the market.

Five years later on June 30, 2005, it was Wells: 103 offices; deposits, $4.2 billion; market share, 21.5%. BofA: 55 offices; deposits, $3.3 billion; market share, 16.8%.

The FDIC’s most recent market share report is for June 30,2011. Wells: 99 offices; deposits, $6.4 billion; market share, 24.4%. BofA: 47 offices; deposits, $3.8 billion; market share, 14.6%.

Rest assured, I wish BofA very well. The motive is entirely financial. It would be nice to have the dividend grow from the current Obama-mandated penny per share per quarter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Texas Low Level Waste Facility Close to Opening, No Word Heard in Northern NM

An anchor of the Southeast New Mexico / West Texas energyplex moved closer to being completely in business after a March 23 decision from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The disposal site for low level nuclear waste being built by Waste Control Specialists LLC is expected to receive final approval from the Commission within a few weeks, according to the March 24-25 Wall Street Journal story.
Those of us in northern New Mexico didn’t hear about the decision—too much process, too far away, who knows. The Albuquerque Journal archives most recent story about the Waste Control Specialists appeared January 3, 2011.
The 1,338-acre facility, called The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Facility (, is just inside Texas and 31 miles from Andrews, Texas, which is 37 miles from Eunice. It has about 175 employees. The waste can come from 36 states including Texas.
My closer reading of the Wall Street Journal story to prepare this post uncovered two surprises. WSJ didn’t say exactly what the ruling ruled, only that the agency “adopted rules Friday that help clear the way.” Nor did WSJ say exactly which agency ruled, though from the context one can infer it was the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Opponents such as the Sierra Club voiced the usual complaints of potential groundwater contamination and transportation hazards.
WSJ used the usual words and called the facility a “dump,” as if the waste is dumped by the side of the road.
According to, a site affiliated with Waste Control Specialists, “The Texas Compact Disposal Facility is owned by the state of Texas, operated by Waste Control Specialists and hosted and supported by Andrews County, Texas.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

NM Adds Jobs for 7th Month

New Mexico’s job behavior trend has become established, perhaps really a trend. The jobs are coming—just a few and slowly. But the jobs are coming. February marked the seventh consecutive month of increase in the wage job totals, the Department of Workforce Services reported this afternoon. All the numbers reported here will be of the non seasonally adjusted variety unless otherwise noted.

On a year-over-year comparison, February brought us 5,100 more wage jobs statewide, a 0.6% increase from the 795,700 jobs in February 2011. The February 2012 job total is 800,800.

Those 5,100 jobs represent a net of 6,000 more private sector jobs, year-over-year, and a 900-job loss in government.

New Mexico’s small job changes are insignificant, statistically, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Well, the BLS didn’t report the insignificance, but New Mexico didn’t make the monthly lists of significant changes in employment and unemployment.

The labor force grew in February, up 6,600 over the year. This placed New Mexico in the happy and unusual position of being a positive exception to the performance of others, the mountain region in this case. The mountain states showed a 29,200-person drop in the labor force from February 2011 to February 2012.

All four metro areas added employees in February, year over year, another change from the recent past. The metro growth total was 4,643, just over two-thirds of the state employment increase of 6,851. (Standard disclaimer: Employment is different from wage jobs.) Albuquerque added 2,082; Farmington, 447; Las Cruces, 788; Santa Fe, 1,326.

Among the sectors, year over year, mining and logging (which is nearly all mining and includes oil and gas) led the growth of basic industries with a 2,500 wage job increase, making for 11% growth. Leisure and hospitality followed with 1,800 new wage jobs.

Educational and health services, which I always associate with government (think Medicaid), led all sectors with 5,700 new wage jobs.

Retail added 1,100 jobs over the year while construction lost 1,100.