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.”