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.”