Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Population Growth Slight, Very Slight

People have quit coming to New Mexico except via being born. Pretty much, anyway.
Yesterday the Census Bureau gave us a year-end present of state population estimates for July 1, 2013. New Mexico’s population is 2,085,287 as of July 1, 2013, the bureau estimates. That’s up a miniscule 1,747 from a year earlier. The percent increase was 0.084 percent. For the decimal challenged, that means less than one tenth of one percent.
The figure nets everything—births, deaths, people moving here, people leaving.
That percentage increase was a third of the percent growth from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2012, which, in turn, was less than half of 0.62 percent increase from July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011.
That we had population growth from 2011 to 2012 was due to more babies appearing than people dying. The real significance is in the migration figures. For the new estimates, the bureau won’t have details for a few weeks. Considering the 2012 details suggests what we will see more births than deaths and more people (grownups, I presume) leaving the state for other places in the U.S. and few people coming from outside the country.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

UP Makes WSJ

A Wall Street Journal article about the performance of the national economy mentioned just one industrial project. The article was in the Saturday/Sunday, December 21 – 22, 2013, edition. The headline said, “U.S. Economy Starts to Gain Momentum.”
The mentioned project is in New Mexico. It is Union Pacific’s “2,200-acre facility in New Mexico, a project expected to cost about $400 million.”
Governor Susana Martinez sometimes mentions the project as being a good thing, but it seems mostly forgotten north of Truth or Consequences.
More important, the facility creates a gateway to Mexico at Santa Teresa, where amazing things are happening.
Putting it another way, the national big-time business publication surveyed the nation’s economy and found just one specific project worth mention, the UP facility five miles northwest of Santa Teresa. That means to me that the project is a very big deal. Well, duh.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Source For Wertheim Column

An essay about paternalism provided the anchor for next week’s column. It came via http://www.aldaily.com which means arts and letters daily. Aldaily prints very short excerpts from articles, book reviews and essays and provides the link. The little introductions open intellectual doors that I could never hope to find, much less open.
The following drew me to the paternalism piece. “The new paternalism is so nonconfrontational, anti-ideological, and unwilling to claim moral authority that it can hardly be called “paternal.” Let’s call it “maternalism”... more»”
Find the article at http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the_triumph_of_the_maternalists/14346#.UquBDqUw2pd. The publication is spiked.com, which calls itself, “Britain’s first online-only current-affairs mag, spiked is a metaphorical missile against misanthropy.” Nancy McDermott was the writer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Abq Pending Home Sales Drop Again

The 566 sales of single family detached homes closed during November represented a 22%, or 157 unit decline from the 723 homes sold during October. In turn, the October performance was down 6% from September. The performance appears to be seasonal—sales traditionally drop from the summer going into the fall and don’t pick up until maybe March.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the November sales report late this afternoon.
The cloud comes in the number of pending sales, down for three of the past four months on a year over year comparison and down 4% in November to 729 units from 762 in October. Pending sales have been dropping on a month to month basis since peaking for the year at 1,280 in April. July is the most recent month showing a healthy year over year increase in pending sales.
A slowing in the robust recovery of the metro Albuquerque real estate market? Hmmmm…
Another possible sign is that 74% of the 762 sales pending during October turned into closed sales during November. That was down from 81% of September’s 889 pending sales closing during October.
The homes that sell are selling fairly quickly. The average days on market, 60 during July and August, was 61 days during November, down one day from 62 during October.
Median and average sales prices during November showed no interest in rebounding to the 2013 highs reached in August of $182,500 for the median and $223,533 for the average. For November the median was $170,000, up two percent from October. The average, $207,986, was down slightly from October. The November average was pushed by two sales of homes priced at $1 million or more and six sales of homes in the $750,000 to $999,000 category.
The median and average sales prices were both up from November 2012. The median increased three percent, the average 1.6%.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Albuquerque, Santa Fe Add Jobs, Other Metros, Rural Counties Lose

Metro Albuquerque added 2,000 wage jobs during the year from October 2012 through October 2013. The percentage gain was a poor 0.5%. But given that the entire state added 1,900 jobs, that means everywhere outside the Duke City lost a net of 100 jobs. Throw in that Santa Fe gained 200 jobs, then outside the north central urban area, the state lost 300 jobs.
This performance reverses what seem to have been happening for a long time. I haven’t kept a chart, but that is my perception. The numbers were release yesterday by the Department of Workforce Services.
The Farmington and Las Cruces metro areas, respectively San Juan and Dona Ana counties, reported no change in wage job totals for the period.
The Albuquerque gains included 600 more government jobs over the year, 700 in local government 500 in state, minus 600 fewer federal jobs. Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington lost, between them, 500 government jobs, all of them federal. On balance, then, Albuquerque won the state government jobs and rural counties lost the local government jobs.
The financial sector was the big winner statewide with 3,000 more jobs over the year, a 9% increase that continues the sector's strong growth of the past several months. I have figured this increase had something to do with real estate, namely improved home sales. Doubt emerges because the three metros (excluding Farmington which doesn’t report sector numbers) showed only 300 more financial jobs for the year. The additional real estate jobs will be in the metro areas, I think.
On another note, a study released yesterday by George Mason University and reported in Albuquerque Business First, the business weekly, says that New Mexico has the nation’s weakest “real private economy” as defined by percentage of jobs that have nothing to do with the government, or something like that.
Such analysis continues to dismiss that we are, uniquely, who we are, invoking cliches here, with the labs, White Sands, NASA's Fort Sumner balloon operation and the 50-employee USGS Abq-based operation that monitors tectonic movement, and ignores the reality that government spending goes up and down, just like private sector spending.

Friday, November 22, 2013

October Job Growth 28% of August, Still Positive

New Mexico added 1,900 wage jobs between October 2012 and October 2013, according to figures released November 22 by the Department of Workforce Services. That growth is 28% of the 6,900 added between August 2012 and August 2013, the last figures issued. September was a federal sequester skip.
The 1,900 jobs are a net of 5,000 new private sector jobs and 3,100 fewer government jobs, year over year. Local government, the largest government sector, led the losses, down 1,600. The federal job total dropped 1,500, a 4.8% decline for the year, to a wage job total of 29,600. State government employment held at 60,600.
Manufacturing took the biggest percentage hit in the private sector with a 900-job, or 3%, year-over-year decline. In August, manufacturing showed an 800 job year-over-year loss. Education and health services, which hardly ever loses jobs and has four times manufacturing’s employment of 29,300, lost 1,100 jobs.
While the reflex is to call the financial services sector “small,” it employs more than the critical “basic economy” sectors of mining, manufacturing and information. The sector continues to boom, adding 900 wage jobs, or 9%, for a total of 36,100.
Leisure and hospital growth remained health with 2,200 new jobs over the year. The growth is down, though, from August when 4,900 jobs were added.
Employment (different from wage jobs) grew a little in the state’s four metro areas, Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, but remains well below a year ago.
None of the New Mexico job changes were considered a big enough deal to be called statistically significant by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), which also released figures November 22.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Bicyclist Talking on Her Cell Phone While Riding. Incredible.

Bicyclists invoke caution from me. I don’t trust them. They are small, compared to my car, behave erratically and are only protected by the illusion of the air over the paint stripe defining a bike lane.
Driving home the other day, headed west on a four-lane street with a median and a bike lane, I saw a bicyclist. As I focused on the cyclist, she (it was a she, I decided) began wobbling in the bike lane. Finally she wandered outside the bike lane. I hit the brakes. She wobbled some more and finally stopped, holding her right hand to her ear, and looked back toward me.
Talking on the phone! Or suffering from a really sore ear. It was at this time that body shape and face provided the clues that the cyclist was a woman. That the cyclist was a woman is worth noting. But stupidity favors neither gender.
Her behavior both explains my lack of sympathy for the cycling movement and my annoyance at the so-call “ghost bikes,” placed at the scene of a cyclist’s death, designed to induce guilt and sympathy for the cyclist and further the cyclists’ cause in situations such the Bike Wars along narrow King Street in Alexandria, Va., described by F.H. Buckley in the Wall Street Journal’s “Cross Country” column in the November 9 – 10 edition. “When you see the bike activists in your neighborhood,” Buckley says, “Be warned that they tend not to play nice.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

October Abq Homes Sales Down From Sept., Up From Sept. 2012

Existing home sales in metro Albuquerque dropped in October from September, though not all that much. The likely-seasonal decline probably had help from higher interest rates. Sales of single family detached homes were 723 units during October, down 46, or 6%, from September. Sales continued the year-over-year increase, up 50 units, or 7.4%, from September 2012.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the October sales report late yesterday afternoon.
January, February and March 2013, the coldest months, reported lower sales than October.
Pending sales were 762 during October, down 127, or 14%, from September. The year-over-year increase pattern broke with pending sales, which dropped 138 units, or 15%, from October 2012. Sales during October were 81% of the 889 sales pending during September, a performance last reached in July. September sales were 64% of August pending sales. Because sales close in an average of about 45 days, pending sales in one month provide a rough and statistically impure means of projecting sales during the next month.
The homes sold during October were on the market an average of 62 days, six days less than during October 2012.
Prices, both average and median, which peaked for 2013 during August, continued to drop. The median price, $182,500 for August, was $177,500 during September and $166,000 for October. The average price was $223,533 during August, $212,307 during September and $208,152 in October.
While the 66 sales of townhouses and condominiums were down from 73 during September, the performance was 12% ahead of October 2012. The median price, $141,250, increased seven percent from a year ago with the average price, $150,922, up ten percent.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Agriculture Economic Sources Listed

My column that will be published next week discusses the economic impact of agriculture, broadly defined. The three principal sources for the column were:

The Food and Fiber System: Contributing to the U.S. and World Economies. By
Kathryn L. Lipton, Office of the Administrator; William Edmondson, Food and Rural
Economics Division; and Alden Manchester, Market and Trade Economics Division,
Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Information
Bulletin No. 742.


Amber Waves: The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources and Rural America, December 2011, Volume 9, Issue 4. Published by the United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves

The column goes to the community newspaper subscribers to the syndication service, New Mexico News Services. The papers are in Farmington, Gallup, Los Alamos, Espanola, Ruidoso, Roswell, Artesia, Carlsbad and Hobbs. Anyone who happens across this post without seeing the column first can go to a newspaper website and look under "opinion." Farmington, Espanola and Los Alamos are especially good about posting the column.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

September Home Sales Ahead of 2012

Metro Albuquerque saw the sale of 769 homes closed during September. That was down 10% from August, presumably a seasonal decline, but up 17.8% from September 2012.
The 889 sales pending during September was also down from August by 122 units or 12% and ahead of September 2012 by five units.
September’s sales closed represented 76% of the August pending sales, about the same percentage of July pending sales represented by August’s 857 closed sales.
The homes with sales closed during September were on the market an average of 63 days, a five percent or three day increase from 60 days during July and August.
Both the average sales price during September ($212,307) and the median price ($177,500) retreated from the 2013 highs reached during August. September’s median price and average price were ahead of September 2012, respectively 3.2% and 4.6%. The September average price was pushed by the sale of four $1 million-plus homes during the month.
The September sales report was posted September 10 at gaar.com by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Abq Leads August Job Performance.

Within the state’s August 2012 to August 2013 growth of 6,900 jobs (all of 0.9%), the metro picture is mixed.
Albuquerque, of all places, led the pack with 5,100 new wage jobs, a not unhealthy 1.4% increase. The Department of Workforce Services released the figures late Friday, September 27.
In the Duke City, the feds dropped 700 wage employees over the year, half the statewide loss of 1,400. However, local government added 1,100 jobs in the city with 600 more state employees. The government sector as a whole gained 1,000 jobs in Albuquerque.
Overall government lost 3,100 jobs including 2,000 in local government.
Combining the two totals for government—minus 3,100 statewide and plus 1,000 in Albuquerque means the non-Albuquerque part of the state lost 4,100 government jobs. Ouch. Note these figures are not seasonally adjusted. Some of the jobs may reappear in September as school begins.
Leisure and hospitality, a rough proxy for tourism, led the Albuquerque growth with 2,800 more jobs, year over year, or 64% of the 4,400 more jobs statewide.
A big tourism year would one to anticipate a jump in leisure and hospitality in Santa Fe. For the August to August year, that was not the case in Santa Fe where the sector remained unchanged at 10,000 wage jobs. Over the year, Santa Fe lost 400 jobs with a few gains offset by 700 fewer jobs in “other services,” whatever that is.
Las Cruces added 100 jobs while Farmington lost 200 during the period.
Statewide, construction is up 1,200 jobs, the best year over year showing since 2006, DWS said.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Employment Drops in August, Wage Jobs Grow

The New Mexico wage job news continued semi-cheery in August with a 6,900 year over year gain in wage jobs led by a banner year in tourism, aka “leisure and hospitality.” The “semi” stems from gains remaining under one percent from the diminished number of employed at the bottom of the recession.
The Department of Workforce Services released the August jobs report last Friday the 20th.
A statistical cloud appears in the drop in the labor force (from 934,930 to 927,009) and in employment (different from wage jobs) from 868,495 in August 2012 to 866,103 in August 2013. The economy apparently is not firing on enough cylinders to drive both job measures (employment and wage jobs) into positive territory. We’re not recovering yet.
As compared to the nation, nothing significant, statistically significant that is, happened here, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also released numbers last Friday. Nationally, 29 states reported more wage jobs, 20 reported fewer and Montana had no change.
Leisure and hospitality led the sector growth with 4,400 more wage jobs over the year, a 4.9 percent increase, definitely strong growth. Though the sector is tourism dominated, by virtue of including restaurants, the improvement also includes additional dining out by local residents, behavior that will reflect national and state economic improvement and perhaps a bit of pent-up restlessness.
With 3,600 new wage jobs, or three percent growth, between August 2012 and August 2013, education and health services has picked up the job pace after some lagging months.
The small financial services sector, with 34,900 jobs in July, continues the percentage growth leader among the sectors with a 5.8 percent increase year over year reflecting increased home sales. Increasing mortgage rate won’t help this performance.
Construction showed a decent 2.9 percent year over year increase with 1,200 wage jobs added to the August 2012 base of 41,400. The caution here is that the concepts of health and the construction sector have been an oxymoron for some years.
Mining, which here includes logging, grew by 1.2 percent, or 300 jobs.
Four of the private sectors lost jobs, “led” by manufacturing, down 800 jobs over the year.
Government dropped 3,100 jobs between the Augusts. The federal total was down 1,400 to 30,400, possibly sequester related. State government added 300 jobs including 200 in the education arena. Local government lost 2,000 with 1,300 in education.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fracking Information Available Here!!

An old friend, Carroll Cagle, asked me to posted these sources of information about fracking, the long-proven technology making our shale boom possible and maybe, in a few years, energy independence.

Harold, as you well know, the battle against fracking is the new jihad by anti-energy forces – esp. now that Keystone XL pipeline no longer uses up all their fervor.

Just as a study shows that fracking is not a big villain re. methane emissions, ant-fracking Cornell disputes THAT study!

Would you be able to post something on this:


The Forbes piece is by Jon Entine responding to criticisms aired yesterday by Cornell scientists re: a recent University of Texas study concerning methane emissions associated with natural gas production. The Cornell scientists said the study was “fatally flawed,” something that is patently untrue. Entine – whose forte is investigative journalism – has written in the past about the fact that Cornell receives significant funding from anti-fracking activist groups – specifically the Park Foundation. So the Entine piece will focus on the bias there, the funding issues, etc.

Gas Leaks in Fracking Disputed in Study
The New York Times, September 16, 2013

Drilling for shale gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, appears to cause smaller leaks of the greenhouse gas methane than the federal government had estimated, and considerably smaller than some critics of shale gas had feared, according to a peer-reviewed study released on Monday.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

August Homes Sales Drop From July

The guess a month ago was that matching the July sales of metro Albuquerque single family detached homes during August would be difficult. The premise was the high percentage of June pending sales that turned into July closed sales. The guess was correct. While 81% of June pending sales became closed sales during July, “only” 74% of the July pending sales closed during August. That meant sales of 857 homes during August, a nine percent or 84 unit drop from July. August sales were up 17% from a year ago.
With August pending sales of 1,011 homes down 13% or 1,158 unit from July, it is reasonable to expect that September sales will drop from August. Seasonality may come into play, too, with the standard decline in sales from the summer peak.
The homes sold during August took an average of 60 days to find a new owner, the same as July. The 60-day average sale period remains the year’s quickest.
During August sale average sale prices increased just a bit from July. The median price grew $500 to $182,500 with the average up $1,028 to $223,533. Both the median and average price was up more than 10% from August 2012.
For the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors, which released the August figures September 10, the headline of the month was a 53%, or 62 unit, increase in sales in Rio Rancho as compared to August 2012. The Rio Rancho performance accounted for nearly half of the year over year sales growth during August.
Sales in the east mountain area declined 15 units year over year. GAAR did not mention this.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Abq, SF "Running Out of Water"

The report is from 247wallst.com. The full URL is http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/08/01/nine-cities-running-out-of-water.
It lists nine cities said to be running out of water. Lubbock leads this ugly list, followed by Pueblo with Colorado Springs in fourth.
Albuquerque is 8th an Santa Fe 9th.

Monday, August 12, 2013

July Homes Sales Highest in Two Years

After modest dip in June as compared to May, sales of metro Albuquerque single family detached homes roared back in July to posted the year’s highest total. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors posted the July sales report today.
July sales were 939 units, plus 80, or 9.3%, from June. The increase from July 2012 was 220 homes, or 30.6%.
The July sales represented 81% of the June pending sales of 1,158 homes. This 81% proportion of pending sales closing is very high. For example, closed sales during May were 70.5% of pending sales.
Closed sales during July were the same as June, GAAR said, 1,158 units. That means it will be difficult for August sales to match July, using our rough predictive relationship between pending and closed sales.
July was the second month of the past 13 with sales more than 900 homes. May was the other month with more than 900 sales.
Sixty days was the average sales period for the homes closing during July, the quickest sales period of the year by five days.
The upward price movement reported around the country appeared in Albuquerque during July. The average sale price, $222,505, was up $10,049 from June, a 4.7% jump. The average price hung around $200,000 the first four months of 2013. The $10,000 increase in the median price—to $182,000—was a 5.8% increase from June and up 4% or $7,000 from July 2012.
Both the median and average prices were the highest since January 2011.
The increase in average price was pushed by the sale of four $1 million-plus homes during the month. The champion sales price group was from $200 to $249,000 with 140 sales during July.
The number of sales of townhouses and condominiums showed the same healthy increases as did single family detached homes. However, prices went the other way with declines in both the median and average.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Store Wars

In the mail today we got a new set of custom coupons from Smith's. We also got a card from Wal-Mart proclaiming the opening of its new Neighborhood Market that is a just couple of blocks further away than the nearest Smith's.
I checked out the Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago. It seems fine and with some meat offerings I haven't seen at Smith's such as tongue and tripe.
Competition. I love it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

BofA Leaves. Flipping Returns.

Bank of America isn’t leaving New Mexico, just a bunch of rural counties. On Friday BofA announced the sale of 11 banking offices (as branches are called these days) to Washington Federal of Seattle. I assume the sale is just another part of BofA’s massive cost cutting in search of profit. The effort was successful during the second quarter when BofA made $4 billion. Now if the feds would just let BofA raise the dividends.
While I haven’t quite pinned the details, my first pass on checking locations says that the move takes BofA completely out of five counties. This is just a final testimony to the notion that BofA never cared much about New Mexico in the first place and cared even less about places outside the Rio Grande.
BofA is leaving three counties where Sunwest Bank, then a subsidiary of Boatmen’s Bancshares of St. Louis, was the biggest bank in town in 1995. They are Chaves (Roswell), Curry (Clovis), and Grant (Silver City). (The history is that Albuquerque-based Sunwest became part of Boatmen’s, which became part of NationsBank which merged with Bank America and took the BofA name.)
BofA also sold two branches in Colfax County, one in Angel Fire and one in Raton; a branch in Hobbs; both branches in Rio Arriba, one in Espanola and one in Chama; and the one in Socorro.
The flipping refers to houses. My radio station in Albuquerque is running commercials urging people to attend a seminar to learn about putting money into the purchase, quickie renovation and resale of homes. Such speculation was a significant contributing factor in creating the “great recession.” And, no, we will never learn.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Job Growth Continued in June!!

Job growth continued in New Mexico during June. The sentence has two startling concepts—job growth and that the job growth continued. The increase was 7,200 wage jobs from June 2012 to June 2013, or 0.9%.
New Mexico’s performance hasn’t yet reached statistical significance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released numbers yesterday. So we’re still lumpfing along, but at least in the right direction.
Leisure and hospitality continued to lead the sector growth with 3,700 new jobs over the year on a not seasonally adjusted basis. The sector added 2,600 jobs between May and June as tourist firms increased staff for the summer.
Financial activities added 2,300 jobs as more homes sold and more mortgages were needed. There were 1,900 new wage job in construction during the year, a big switch and a 4.5% increase.
The information sector, which includes move and TV production, grew 10.1% during the June-to-June year. If indeed, the increase is due to film, the jobs will go away as projects end.
All in all, the private sector added 10,600 jobs during the year for a 1.7% increase. Government lost 3,400 jobs. Federal employment dropped 1,700. So much for that “over dependence” on the feds. Education, state and local, broke even for the year with no change after losing 8,300 jobs between May and June. Again, the figures are not seasonally adjusted. A good many of those jobs can be expected to return in August and September.
On the other hand, as economists like to say, the state now has three counties with more than 10% unemployment. Luna County (16.5% unemployed) and Mora (13.4%) continue to “lead.” McKinley County passed the mark to 10.1% unemployment during June.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Star Santa Fe Resident

Comedy writer Jack Handey. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/magazine/jack-handey-is-the-envy-of-every-comedy-writer-in-america.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&smid=pl-share.

The reference is via http://althouse.blogspot.com, a July 15 post linked to the NY Times.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

June Abq Home Sales Up 25% from 2012, Down From May

The 859 single family detached homes sold during June jumped 25%, or 174 units from June 2012. However, the June sales dropped 4.9%, or 44 units from May, in defiance of the seasonal pattern of sales building each month through the spring into the summer.
The double “however” may be that sales build during the spring, but pause in June. Sales during June 2012 were down from May as well.
In the tradition of finding the good news and ignoring the rest, the Greater Albuquerque Board of Realtors, which released the June sales report on Wednesday, happily chirped that pending sales—1,158 in June—have been above 1,000 for four months. True enough, but the 2013 pending peak was 1,280 in April. June pending sales were 10.6% or 111 units more than a year ago.
During May, 71% of the 1,280 sales pending for April turned into closed sales. For June, 69% of May’s pending sales of 1,250 homes became closed sales. Note that deals made during one month don’t necessarily close during the following month. Still, the relationship provides a rough proxy for coming-month sales. With June pending sales of 1,158 homes, is 69% turn into closed sales during July, that would mean 799 sales, down seven percent from June. We will see.
Townhouse / condo sales, 94 units during June, were up 12% from May and more than double the very poor sales of 39 units during June 2012.
The median price—$172,000 during June—remained below 2012 for the third month.
The average sales price was $212,456 during June, up less than $1,000 from and up 2.3% from June 2012. This price was the highest average since February 2011. Sales of five $1 million plus homes during June certainly helped push up the average. The four price groups between $300,000 and $999,999 all increased sales from May.
The homes selling during June were on the market an average of 66 days. That’s up a day from May and ten days faster than the 76 days a sale required during June 2012.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Metro Abq Adds Jobs in June, Other Three Metros Lose

Metro Albuquerque added 3,200 wage jobs in the year from May 2012 to May 2013, the biggest year over year increase since 2007, the Department of Workforce Services reported Friday. The other news is that the state’s other three metro areas—Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Farmington—each lost 300 jobs, reducing the metro net gain to 2,300.
Statewide the increase was 7,800 jobs, or one percent. That means the 26 rural counties together found 5,500 more jobs during the year. It has been five years since New Mexico showed a one percent year over year increase, DWS said. The pace brings us back to what is regarded here as mediocre growth, something DWS did not say.
The one percent growth ties us with four other states for 32nd place in the national ranking of job growth. Only Wyoming and Alaska lost jobs during the May to May year.
Our neighbors were four of the top six states in job growth. Arizona was 6th with 2.1%; Colorado, 5th at 2.2%; Utah 3rd at 2.6%; and Texas 2nd at 2.7%.
The federal and local governments dropped 1,900 jobs during the year. State government added 1,100 jobs (Thank you, Gov. Martinez, I think) to reduce the overall government sector loss to 800. The state government education sector, about half of total state government, lost 400 jobs during the year.
Even as the manufacturing outlook improves a little nationwide, the sector suffers here. Manufacturing dropped 1,100 jobs statewide with more than 80% of the losses, or 900 jobs, coming in metro Albuquerque. Las Cruces and Santa Fe each lost 100 manufacturing jobs. DWS does not provide individual sector totals for Farmington, but the private sector lost 300 jobs in Farmington in the May to May year.
The three larger metro areas claim 20,300 manufacturing jobs, of 71% of the 28,400 jobs statewide. While manufacturing is small in total number of jobs at 28,400, it is an important member of the core or basic part of any area economy. In other words, Albuquerque’s manufacturing sector isn’t helping the state’s recovery one bit.
Leisure and hospitality (tourism) continued to lead sector growth statewide, followed construction (surprise), education and health services and financial.
Albuquerque’s construction sector added 1,200 jobs, just behind the 1,300 new tourism jobs.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Claim is That Remington and Others Manufactured "Hero-sized" Americans

A brief introduction to the New Mexico History Museum’s “Cowboys Real and Imagined” exhibit rides the range of unsupported revisionism and impossibility. The same mindset largely ignored mining and agriculture when the museum opened a few years ago. The commentator here, in the summer 2013 “El Palacio” magazine is Kate Nelson, museum staffer and, before settling into her government job, political writer from the left at the late Albuquerque Tribune.
Nelson says the exhibit shows what she claims (without attribution or justification) was “a focused effort by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Owen Wister, Frederic Remington, and Charles M. Russell to manufacture a hero-sized American.”
“The likes of…” To me, that’s certainly a snidely denigrating phrase to throw at some American greats. One might debate the point. Perhaps the context simply means “similar.”
Then consider manufacturing. Manufacturing is done on purpose. Manufacturing has a specific beginning, process and result called a product. That the result of the manufacturing work of the Nash Four listed above was “hero-sized” says that the starting point was smaller sized and that the Four purposefully added. In putting the Four together, Nash suggests a conspiracy. If there was purpose and if they were together, there must have been a plot.
Having trashed the Four, Nash jumps does a further number on them with guilt by association with Dime Novels, the mass not-so-literary media that first appeared in 1860, according to Wikipedia, and to B movie westerns, which came after the Dime Novels had pretty much run their course, something not mentioned.
All this is just another example of the unhappy political agenda at the History Museum. Frances Levine, museum director explained in the epilogue to “Telling New Mexico: A New History,” issued in 2009 as part of opening the museum. She said, History museums “honor the past while serving as ongoing partners in education, civic engagement and social change. The best play a strong role in framing social policy…” Wow.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Job Situation Continues Improvement

New Mexico’s job situation continues to improve. A little.
Employment, seasonally adjusted, grew a few hundred from April.
From May 2012, however, May 2013 employment showed 10,100 more jobs for a total of 943,300. The increase was 1.16%.
The seasonally unadjusted figures weren’t as pretty, so we’ll just wallow in the glorious 1+%.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the figures today.
Some sector figures, seasonally adjusted, show:
Construction: +2,900 to 43,600.
Manufacturing: -1,300 to 28,500.
Professional and business services: +100 to 98,100.
Finance: +1,500 to 34,200.
Education and health services: +1,800 to 123,500.
Leisure and hospitality: +2,800 to 88,500.
Government: -1,900 to 192,400.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Abq Homes Sales Pop During May

Home sales around metro Albuquerque popped in May with a 23.9% increase from April and 22.5% growth from May 2012.
Prices, both median and average, increased from April but changed little—$302 in the case of the average—from May 2012.
The sale of 903 single family detached homes closed during May. That was up 174 units (23.9%) from April and a 166-unit jump from May 2012. A quick look at the history at gaar.com indicates the most recent monthly sales of more than 900 were in 2007. Note that it was a “quick look.” If you want to be sure, look at gaar.com. GAAR is the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors, which released the May sales report today. Look for these figures in the Albuquerque Journal in a couple of weeks.
The median price, $174,900, was just $100 short of the $175,000 median seen in March. The highest recent median price was $178,000, reached in July 2011.
The May average price, $211,505, broke $210,000 for the first time in 2013. The May average was the highest average since February 2011.
The single family detached homes with sales closed during May jumped off the shelf, so to speak, with a 65 day average sales period, the shortest of the year and down five days from April and 21 days faster than during May 2012.
May saw pending sales of 1,250 homes, up 25.4% from a year ago, but down 30 from April. Of those 1,280 sales pending during April, 71% turned into closed sales during May. That was a five point increase from the 66% of the March pending sales that closed during April.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wages Jobs Grow One Percent, Wondrous, Amazing

The job news from the New Mexico economic was good in April, not statistically significant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released numbers today.
The labor force grew and the number of unemployed dropped, meaning that the economy absorbed the new potential workers plus a little.
The employment growth (seasonally adjusted and not wage jobs which are different from “employment”) was 10,200, or 1.2%, between April 2012 and April 2013. The labor force added 8,800. The unseasonally adjusted figures behaved about the same.
While I haven’t tracked this labor force / employment metric is detail, my sense is that the performance is fairly amazing given our performance for five or six years.
Wage job growth was one percent, a gain of 7,900, for the April to April year, the Department of Workforce Services reported today. It was April 2008, five years ago, when wage job growth last hit one percent, DWS said.
The big statewide sector turn was in construction with an 1,800 job gain, the best year over year performance for the sector since 2006. Leisure and hospitality continued to lead the sector performance with 2,500 more jobs since April 2012.
The professional and business services sectors lost another 1,500 jobs over the year, presumably mostly from defense contracting companies which means mostly Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I don’t think furloughs are shown in this figure because at least those folks furloughed for a few days each month are still working, depending on the definition of being a full-time employee.
Growth has resumed in educational and health services with an 1,800-job April to April increase. Financial activities added 1,700 jobs over the year, continuing the rapid expansion of the past few months.
State government added 1,600 jobs including 1,300 in education. The feds dropped 1,200 jobs. Say “sequester.”
Employment even grew in Bernalillo County with 4,725 more jobs bringing the total employed in the county to 287,740. Employment grew a few hundred in the other three metropolitan counties: Santa Fe, Dona Ana and San Juan. DWS will have wage job figures for the metros in a week or so.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Home Sales Continue Up, Prices Drop

The number of sales of single family detached homes around metro Albuquerque continued to increase during April. So did the number of pending sales, suggesting further growth in completed sales. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the numbers Monday.
April saw the sale of 729 homes closed. That was up 57, or 8%, from March and 127 more than March 2012, a 20.7% increase.
Pending sales, 1,280 during April, increased 172, or 16%, from March. From a year ago, the increase was 244 units, or 24%.
Prices went the other way.
Both average and median prices dropped from March 2012 and March 2013.
For April the average sales price was $197,908. The drop was $4,697 from March and $13,278 from a year ago. The average price did stay in that $200,000 range where it has been for several months.
The median price, $168,000 in April, declined $6,775 from March 2012 and $7,000 from March 2013. The decline took the median price back to close to the February level of $168,500.
The homes for which the sale closed during April were on the market an average of 70 days, the briefest sales period of 2013. The sales period was 83 days during April 2012.

Monday, May 13, 2013

PNM Annual Meeting a Tight Operation, Without Flair and Demonstrators

If Pat Collawn runs the rest of PNM Resources the way she runs the annual meeting, then PNM is a tight ship indeed.
By my count the May 9 meeting took 28 minutes. The Albuquerque Journal said 35 minutes. Whatever. Speedy, in any case. Among the highlights were the zero questions after Collawn’s CEO address. She is also board chair and president.
The meeting was in the “HQ-4 Conference Center” in PNM’s new/old corporate headquarters in downtown Albuquerque. “HQ” must mean headquarters. The “4” was for fourth floor. The building, as I remember, was built as PNM’s headquarters in the 1970s or 80s and was replaced by the now-empty and for sale Alvarado Square with its long since defunct solar collectors. No demonstrators cluttered the entrance, unlike the 2012 meeting, held in an even more obscure conference room in Alvarado Square.
PNM reoccupied the renovated present headquarters in late 2012.
HQ-4 seats about 60 with tables. About 40 people attended the meeting including PNM directors and staff. PNM had 11,469 shareholders as of February 22, the proxy said. Two police officers graced the back of the room. To get to HQ-4, people had to run a security gauntlet including a security staffer joining the elevator ride to the fourth floor.
The annual report, available at the door, was just shy of a quarter inch thick. The report used only black ink. The paper was fancy newsprint with a card stock cover.
Like the annual report, Collawn’s CEO speech was without flair. Glitz came post-speech with the unveiling of a TV commercial with environmental themes. A utility has to do that, I suppose. Collawn had good words about PNM’s continuing investment in renewable energy, again a necessity. But happily the good words came without the nauseating channeling of Al Gore that accompanied similar recitations from Jeff Sterba, Collawn’s predecessor. Collawn’s meeting also came without the freebie CFL light bulbs that brightened Sterba’s meetings.
Good news for shareholders came at the end of Collawn’s remarks. The company hopes for another dividend increase at the end of 2013, she said. The current dividend is 14.5 cents per share. In 2003 the rate was 23 cents per share. It went to 16 cents per share in 2004. The rate was 12.5 cents per share for several years ending in 2011.
The past year was a “very busy but productive 12 months,” Collawn said. There is “a lot of positive news,” but also many challenges for the approximately 2,000 employees in New Mexico and Texas.
“The state of the company is strong (despite) difficult economic conditions in New Mexico.” Texas is the economic bright spot. “The economic environment (in New Mexico) is not good… that impacts PNM sales.”
The big accomplishments of the year were getting PNM’s financial condition back to enabling the company’s debt to be rated “investment grade,” meaning PNM will pay less to borrow money, and cutting a deal with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to keep the San Juan Generating Station operating, reduce emissions more than the EPA wanted and do it for much less money. The EPA is “showcasing this New Mexico agreement as the way the process should work,” Collawn said.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

NM / Colorado Income Gap Widens

The 2012 state personal income numbers were released March 27 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Oh, woe is me, I didn't discover this until 90 minutes ago.
Oh, well.
For 2012, New Mexico's per capita income was $35,079. We ranked 43rd nationally. Coloradans per capita-wise earned $45,135, or $10,056 more than New Mexicans. The gap was $9,513 in 2011.
For selected other states, the 2012 per capita income and national rank was:
Connecticut: $58,908 (1).
Arizona: $35,979. (41). Like New Mexico, a border state.
Utah: $34,601. (46). Many Mormon babies.
Mississippi: $33,073. (50).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wage Job Growth Is 2.5% for the 26 Rural Counties From March 2012 to March 2013

The real news about New Mexico’s wage job performance between March 2012 and March 2013 came in part from the Department of Workforce Services, released the metro job numbers last Friday afternoon. For the rest, I did the arithmetic. Brag, brag.
The state’s 26 rural counties added 6,400 wage jobs, year-over-year, for a 2.5% increase. The rural counties added more than half a percentage point to bring their share of the state’s wage jobs to 32.54%.
DWS said Albuquerque added wage jobs during March from the February total. More than two or three, 2,200 in fact, for 0.6% growth. The figures are seasonally adjusted. While the percentage increase remained well under one, the number is big enough to perhaps be real instead of being some statistical flight of fancy.
In what I take to be desperation for good news, DWS chose to confuse the readers of its Labor Market Review newsletter, which unveiled the metro numbers. For Albuquerque, DWS threw month-to-month numbers and seasonally adjusted numbers into the salad with unadjusted and year-over-year figures. The casual reader, me to start, will take Albuquerque’s 2,200 new jobs are an annual gain.
Normally, the page one numbers on the Labor Market Review are annual performance and seasonally unadjusted.
New Mexico year-over-year gained 3,800 wage jobs on a seasonally unadjusted basis and 4,100 between February and March, again not seasonally adjusted.
Statewide and year-over-year, two sectors had job increases for more than 3%. Leisure and hospitality added 2,800 jobs, a 3.3% increase. Finance beat the percentage with 3.4% increase and 1,100 new jobs. Real estate, I wonder.
For the year in Albuquerque, however, it was a different game. Albuquerque lost 1,400 jobs (on a seasonally unadjusted basis) in the year from March 2012 and gained 2,500 between February and March.
Santa Fe was the only metro job with a year over year, seasonally unadjusted, job increase. The growth was slight, only 100 jobs, or 0.2%. Santa Fe’s wage job total remained 60,200 between February and March. For the year, Santa Fe lost 900 government wage jobs, 700 from state government.
Farmington dropped 700 jobs, or 1.4%, from March 2012 to March 2013. Las Cruces lost 600 jobs, year-over-year and seasonally unadjusted, down 0.9%.

Friday, April 19, 2013

March to March, A few Jobs Appear. Feb. to March, none.

None of the other 49 states equaled New Mexico’s wage job performance during March. There were 23 with more wage jobs and 26 with fewer. New Mexico stood alone with no change.
Caveats: The state job performance stated above was for March in comparison to February. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
The year-over-year comparison means more, I believe, than a monthly change.
For the year from March 2012, our job situation continued the performance of January and February and showed a slight increase of 3,800 wage jobs (0.47%) on a seasonally unadjusted basis and 2,200 (0.3%) with the seasonal adjustment. The wage job total grew 3,500 in January and 2,600 in February.
The monthly percentage increase remains below one half of one percent. Maybe having a one percent year-over-year increase would allow saying a recovery of sorts is in place. For now, no.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, Arizona added 45,100 jobs year-over-year for 1.8% growth. Colorado added 58,700, a 2.6% increase for the period. New Mexico added 2,200 for 0.3% growth.
Throw population into the mix and New Mexico’s comparative performance is even worse. While Colorado’s 5.2 million (in 2012) population is “only” 2.5 times that of New Mexico, for the March-to-March year, Colorado added 26.7 times more wage jobs. Arizona’s 6.6 million population is 3.14 times New Mexico’s 2.1 million. Arizona’s 45,100-job increase was 20.5 times New Mexico’s.
For the March-to-March year, leisure and hospitality (tourism, mostly) continued to have the best performance with 2,800 more jobs, followed by finance with 1,100 more. Manufacturing lost 600 jobs and government dropped 700.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Abq Homes Sales Increase Again. Median Price Up, Average Down

This is not your father’s housing recovery. Sales are up and prices are up. Yet job growth nationally is slight. In Albuquerque, jobs continue to disappear. Nationally, I read, wages just barely track the 2% inflation rate which means real wages are down.
So just what is up?
Free money, courtesy of the Federal Reserve, writes Edward Pinto of the American Enterprise Institute in today’s Wall Street Journal. Pinto was chief credit office for Fannie Mae from 1987 to 1989. He’s been there.
Well, almost free money. Today’s average mortgage rate is less than 3.5%, Pinto write, down from an average of 6.3% from 2000 to 2009.
That means, other things equal, buyers can afford to pay more a home. Of a given monthly payment amount, less goes to interest and more goes to principal. Pinot sees trouble ahead, based on “past experience with the disastrous impact of loose lending encouraged by federal policies.”
In Albuquerque, during March sales closed on 672 single family detached homes, a 130 unit, or 24% increase from February. The increase from March 2012 was 176 homes, 12.75%. March’s closed sales performance turned 74% of the pending sales of 913 homes during February into closed deals.
(Unless other wise indicated, all the numbers here refer to single family detached homes.)
Pending sales for March were 139 units, a 15% increase from February and up 87 units, or 9%, from a year before.
The median price for March was $175,000, up 4%, or $6,500, from February, and a 10% increase from March 2012. The median sales price was $162,000 in March 2011 and $175,000 in March 2012.
The average sales price during March, $202,605, showed a $909 decline from February but increased 6.8% from March 2012. The average sales price was $199,683 in March 2011 and $211,049 in March 2010. With the exception of one month, January 2013, the average price has remained above $200,000 since April 2012 when it hit $211,186.
Prices, both median and average, fell between February and March in 2011 and 2012.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Metros Lose Jobs, Hobbs Gains Hotels

All four New Mexico metro areas lost wage jobs between February 2012 and February 2013. The combined metro drop was 1,900 jobs. That means the 26 rural counties gained 7,500 jobs to account for the 5,600 job statewide gain year-over-year. The metro numbers were released Friday by the Department of Workforce Services.
The metro job losses were Albuquerque, 900; Farmington, 400; Las Cruces, 500; and Santa Fe, 100.
A bright spot for Lea County is addition of five new hotels. The Holiday Inn Express is open. A TownePlace Suites by Marriott and four others are in the pipeline.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jobs Grow for Second Month, Federal Cuts Loom

February brought New Mexico a second consecutive month of more wage jobs on a year-over-year comparison, the Department of Workforce Services reported this afternoon.
The increase was 5,600 from February 2012. Total seasonally unadjusted and preliminary February 2013 wage employment statewide was 803,800.
Leisure and hospitality (the bureaucratic and imprecise proxy for tourism) led the good news with a 2,600-job increase, year-over-year. The percentage growth was a healthy 3.1%. Leisure and hospitality is the state’s fourth largest private sector employment group.
Financial activities, which include real estate, followed with 1,800 net new jobs for the year, a booming (strange word, there, “booming”) 5.5% increase. Perhaps we are seeing the effect of the increasing sales of existing homes. The financial activities sector had 34,300 employees in February 2013.
The largest job sector, the 123,800 employee educational and health services, added 1,000 employees for the year, a slight 0.8% increase.
Further good news can be seen in the loss of only 300 jobs, or 0.3%, from the professional and business services sector. This happiness likely will change, however, because the sector contains the engineers and software types who populate companies contracting to national laboratories.
Government employment dropped 900 for the year on the “strength” of 1,200 federal jobs disappearing. Education added 600 jobs during the period.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Where Hispanics Live...

And which Hispanics live where.
These are the topics of a new report from the American Communities at Brown University and the Russell Sage Foundation. See: http://www.s4.brown.edu/us2010/Data/Report/report03202013.pdf.
Neither New Mexico nor Albuquerque are mentioned. I suppose our numbers are too small. Large metro areas such as New York Houston, Chicago and Miami are analyzed.
From my cursory look at the report, two topics seem of interest to New Mexicans.
First is the increasing diversity of Hispanics nationwide. There are far more people from Central and South American. In New Mexico our diversity increase means that people tracing their heritage to Mexico now outnumber the Northern New Mexico Hispanics tracing themselves to Spain or saying, “Other,” to the Census question about heritage.
Second, the Census messed up the origin question in 2000. I have no idea what this means for New Mexico.
The report said, “The Census has done an excellent job of counting Hispanics, but in 2000 it performed poorly in identifying their origin. In previous years, a single “Hispanic question” on the census served reasonably well to distinguish Hispanics from different national origins. In 1990 people who identify as Hispanic were asked to check one of three boxes (Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban), or to write in another Hispanic category. In Census 2000, no examples of other categories were provided to orient respondents. It is likely that this caused an unprecedented number of Hispanics to provide no information or only the broad category of “Hispanic” or “Spanish.” As a result, 6.2 million, or 17.6% of all Hispanics, were counted in census reports as “Other Hispanics”. This represents nearly double the share of the Other Hispanics category in the 1990 or 2010 census. The result is a severe underestimate of the numbers of many specific Hispanic groups in 2000. States and metropolitan areas where New Latinos are particularly concentrated were dramatically affected by this problem.”

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wage Jobs Grow in January Over January 2012

Nothing much happened in the New Mexico economy during 2012, according to the January job numbers released this morning by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Change in the form of year-over-year job growth is the new element. The seasonally adjusted wage job total for January was 806,400. The 3,100 job increase from January 2012 was 0.39%.
Take away the seasonal adjustment and the January 2013 wage job figure (793,600) is still up 3,500 from the January 2012 figure of 790,100.
The unadjusted increase is 0.44%. With the adjustment it is 0.39%.
Reviewing sector performance leaves one wondering about the source of the job growth, such as it was. Only two sectors showed an increase that might not be a rounding error. Leisure and hospitality added 1,100 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, or 1.3%, over the year for a sector total of 85,900 jobs. The 900 job increase in education and health services brought the sector to 122,800 jobs. The increase was 0.74%.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Feb Homes Sales, Prices Up

February sales of single family detached homes improved 62 units, or 13%, over January. The 542 sales represented 7.1% growth from February 2012. That month had 29 days as 2012 was a leap year.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the February sales report yesterday afternoon.
Average and median prices bounced mostly back from the January slump over the December. The February average, $203,514 remained below November and December, but was above October and within the $200,000 to $205,000 range of average prices between August and November 2012. The average price was up 4.3% from the February 2012 average of $195,165.
The February average price got help from the high end with 21 sales of homes priced at $500,000 and above including at $1 million or more. January had 11 such sales.
At $168,500, the February median price increased from January by $10,500 or 7%. The February median beat October and November, was below December and increased 4.3% from February 2012.
Sales pending during February, 542, were 62 units or 13% below January. However, figuring sales on a per day average to allow for the fewer days in February shows February sales at 32.6/day, 1.3 units more than the 31.3 sales/day during January.
Single family detached homes took an average of 76 days to sell during February. That was 11 days or 12.6% faster than February 2012, but slower than the last three months of 2011.
Condominium and townhouse sales, 54 during February, beat both January and February 2012.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Higher Ed $$: NM Almost Wins

The competition was the race for leading the five-year inflation adjusted change in average net tuition paid per full time student. Change of course means increase. We were second to Georgia which increased net tuition 77.5% for the five years from 2007 to 2012. New Mexico's increase was 54.3%.

The net part means the numbers are after deducting state and institutional grants and scholarships. The numbers are in a report released today by State Higher Education Officers Association (http://www.sheeo.org). The report is the annual State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report. Find it at http://www.sheeo.org/resources/publications/shef-—-state-higher-education-finance-fy12.

In the race for leading the reduction of funding per full time student, we weren't competitive, finishing only in the second group which cut support from 20% to 40%.

Two states reduced tuition during the period—Wyoming and Arkansas. Two states increased the financial support—resource rich North Dakota and bankrupt Illinois.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Exports: The (Probable) Intel Effect

Just guessing here, but the state's much (and properly) praised export statistics ask for a closer look, as indeed do most publicized statistics.

To start, the release from the federal International Trade Administration, a part of the Department of Commerce, mixes numbers from 2010, 2011 and 2012. Confusion comes from such a stew.

The dollar value for "merchandise exports" was $3.0 billion in 2012, $2.1 billion in 2011, and $1.5 billion in 2010. Such growth is wonderful. But on to Intel.

The leading export category in 2012 by dollar value with a $1.7 billion total was computer and electronic products. For New Mexico, though the feds don't release company detail, the category is a longwinded way of saying "Intel." By country, Israel was the leading recipient of our merchandise exports with a value of $1.3 billion in 2012, or 43.5% of the total.

That may seem odd. Israel is a small and distant country, after all. But Intel turns out to have operations in five sites in Israel including two fabrication plants at Qiryat Gat. Again, just guessing here, but as Zelda Gilroy often mentioned on the "Dobie Gillis" show, propinquity counts.

Friday, March 1, 2013

NM in Top 10.... In Projected Sequester Effects

The headline is inaccurate. We are in the top ten for federal spending as a percentage of state gross domestic product, so we may well be in the top ten in receiving the effect. But on one knows for sure. "Regions that depend (more) on federal spending... will be slammed by the cuts," says today's Wall Street Journal in the caption for a map showing state GDP by percentage of federal spending.

For the current budget year, which ends September 30,federal cash spending will drop by only $42 billion, petty cash on the scale of things. Contracts in place will need to be completed or at least not suddenly canceled. Furloughs of civilian workers, set to start in April if they happen, will not be noticeable for a while because the consumers will reduce spending only gradually.

For Covis and Alamogordo, however, the situation may be different.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Anti-Mobility Totalitarians Lose One

Here's to new Albuquerque City Councillor Roxanna Meyers for quickly understanding that the proposed roundabout in Albuquerque's North Valley was a bad idea. Meyers told City Hall to stop planning for a $1.5 million roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria NW, the Albuquerque Journal reported today.

While I generally oppose roundabouts, considering them confusing and therefore dangerous, I hadn't been by Rio Grande and Candelaria NW for months until a few days ago. The intersection is a regular intersection with lights. Big deal. Sure the streets are wide, but arterials tend to be wide. The anti-mobility totalitarians want us all on bikes or driving autos a maximum of 18 MPH, the speed limit on so-called bike corridors such as Silver SE and Mountain Road near Old Town.

City Hall will send $1 million back to the feds, no doubt to be wasted elsewhere, and put $500,000 bad into the city's budget, perhaps to be usefully used.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Councillor Meyers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Business Weekly Changes Name

The Albuquerque Business Weekly is now Albuquerque Business First. The news came today in the form of a subscription "introductory offer discount." I had never heard of Business First and wondered (hoped) that Biz Weekly had a competitor. Then I noticed that the Biz First address was the same as Biz Weekly.

The website is the same. There is no mention that Biz First was formerly Biz Weekly. The mailer came from Charlotte, NC.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Homes Sales Up in January, Prices Down

Yesterday two reports about metro Albuquerque real estate said life is mostly good and getting better.
The Albuquerque Journal reviewed 2012 home sales and said the inventory of homes offered for sale is down, sales are up on a monthly and a year-over-year basis and prices are up. The housing market has turned a corner from the bubble, the Journal report said.
A few details are worth mention. The Journal’s report probably was about all single family homes, both detached and attached (townhouses and condominiums), but this wasn’t clear. While 8,387 attached and detached total sales during 2012 was the highest since 2007, the metro population has grown. My guess is that sales remain down on a per capita basis from pre-bubble times. Likewise, while the 1.7% average price increase during 2012 is god news, it is behind the 2.1% increase in the main CPI, called the consumer price index for all urban consumers. In other words, if that 2.1% CPI increase works for Albuquerque, which it may or may not, the real value of homes dropped in 2012.
Niggling aside, 2006 was the last time one could say positive real estate things about Albuquerque. A nice change.
Except for dropping prices, the good news continued in January, according to the monthly sales report from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
Both the median and average prices for single family detached homes dropped from December 2012 and from January 2012. The median price was $158,000 in January. The average was $186,051.
It has been at least four years since prices were this low. My files don’t go beyond 2009.
Why? No idea. Short sales? Could be. My only observation is that the number of highest-end sales, those over $500,000, dropped by more than half from December to January. The next lowest prices were in March 2012 when the average was $189,676 and the median was $159,000.
The 480 sales closed during January were down from December as is seasonally normal, but up 16.8% from January 2012. The number of sales pending during January, 969, jumped 35% from December and was up “only” 16% from a year earlier. Around 70% of sales pending during one month tend to turn into closed sales during the next month. That suggests February sales might be more than 600, allowing for the short month. We’ll see.
The homes sold during January took an average of 74 days to sell, the longest sales period since 76 days in June 2012.
Sales of townhouses and condominiums mirrored the detached home performance with prices down and closed and pending sales down from December and up from January 2012.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Martinez Tax Proposals Sound Nice, But...

With two tax proposals unveiled today, Gov. Susana Martinez stepped away from the tax philosophy* that tax bases should be as broad as possible so the rates can be as low as possible. Martinez proposals also do their bit for raising taxpayer compliance costs by creating niche exemptions for taxpayers to try to understand.
Telling small businesses with a preacher-style ring to her voice that, “We will walk alongside you,” she unveiled idea of a $1,000 tax credit for every job created by businesses employing fewer than 100 people. This would be a two-year program. Businesses would have to “retain” the new employee, whatever that means.
Martinez spoke at noon to the New Mexico chapter of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP, www.naiopnm.org).
The other proposal was to exempt veteran’s retirement pay from state income tax. Now who could say no to veterans for the sake of tax philosophy?
After Martinez finished her presentation, I had a quick chat with the accountants sitting next to me.
For someone earning $30,000, the benefits might run $20,000, making $50,000 the cost of the new employee. That proposed $1,000 is two percent of the new employee’s cost, not enough of a difference at the margin to tip the hiring decision.
Compliance might be the bigger issue. We already have tax credits. Dealing with the bureaucracy in order to qualify for the credits is nearly impossible. A typical business owner lacks the time or expertise to run the bureaucratic gauntlet and probably lacks the money to pay the accountants for the chore.
* The New Mexico Tax Research Institute serves the tax-guru role. (http://www.nmtri.org)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Santa Fe Adds Jobs During 2012. Other Metros Don't.

Here is the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) summary of Albuquerque’s job performance. “The Albuquerque MSA continued to lose jobs over the year.
Albuquerque has experienced negative job growth for most of the past four years and is now at an employment level similar to that of 2004.”
Wage jobs in Albuquerque have declined for 13 consecutive months. Pretty amazing, as is said. Albuquerque lost 2,300 wage jobs during 2012.
DWS released the figured at 4:48 yesterday afternoon, just in time to miss the newscasts.
In the 2012 job loss race, Las Cruces beat Albuquerque, dropping 2,400 jobs. Farmington did do near so well, losing a mere 500 wages jobs during 2012, nearly all from the private sector, DWS said.
Santa Fe was the lone New Mexico metro to add jobs with growth of 1,100 jobs, all in the private sector and led by leisure and hospitality.
Statewide, a net of 3,200 jobs went away with the private sector gaining 2,400 and government losing 5,600. The feds dropped 1,100 with the state down a net of 5,600. Education added 500 jobs, 400 in state government education and 100 in local government education.
The next job report will appear March 18. The longer period between reports allows time for revisions called benchmarking.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Carlsbad Caverns Visits Below 400,000 in 2011

Carlsbad Caverns National Park broke the 400,000 visits milestone in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are posted by the National Park Service (nps.gov). But the barrier wasn't broken in a good way. The number of visits fell below 400,000 for the first time.

Online National Park Service visitor reports start with 1979, a year that showed 721,647 people coming to the Caverns. Visits fell below 700,000 for the first time in 1990. Visits cracked the 600,000 barrier in 1995 with 588,609 visits. The 500,000 barrier fell in 2000 when there were 469,303 visits.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jobs Losses Continue in December

Wage job losses continued across New Mexico in December. The seasonally unadjusted December 2011 to December 2012 loss was 3,200 or 0.4%. The Department of Workforce Services ad the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers late this afternoon. DWS continues the nonsensical approach of talking about the state’s job growth, except that it is negative.
The monthly year-over-year job losses started in June and have continued. Before June we had ten months of tiny positive growth each month.
Among the sectors, mining, which has saved the state’s employment bacon all year, grew on 700 jobs for the year to employ 21,800 in December. Construction mysteriously showed a 1,600 job increase for the year to 42,400.
Manufacturing was up 300 jobs, about one percent. Education and health services added 1,200 jobs, also around one percent.
The big winner was leisure and hospitality with a 3,700 job increase. The sector is mostly tourism.
With a 2,900 job drop, the private sector loss leader continued to be professional and business services, home to lawyers, accountants and vast numbers of technical contractor types.
The biggest loser, so to speak, was government, down 5,600 jobs. State government provided 4,600 of those job loses, with, as reported elsewhere, nearly all from the non-education areas.
None of the changes in New Mexico’s employment picture were statistically significant. That means nothing much is happening here, but is happening brings negative totals.
The University of New Mexico forecasts job growth of more than one percent for 2013. Since I lack the pedigree to peer at the details of UNM’s numbers (that’s a long story), like you, I’m stuck with wondering what they are talking about, or smoking.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NM "Getting Stronger" ???

That's what Governor Martinez said in her state of the state speech today. Here's the quote, "While we still have much work to do, the state of our state is getting stronger."
Governor, that's just nonsense.

Three Years Since NM Economy Grew

In the latest edition of the New Mexico Business Outlook newsletter, just released, Chris Erickson looked at the November 2012 job numbers.
One conclusion:
"New Mexico ranked dead last and was the only state to have net negative growth for the three years ending November 2012."
Erickson is an NMSU economist and edits New Mexico Business Outlook which is the e-newsletter of the College of Business at New Mexico State University.
See http://bbrs.nmsu.edu/nmbizoutlook/January2013/article2.htm.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Want My Kids to Stay in NM

We've heard that from politicians many times. I have always felt the lamentation was parochial and useless. The irrelevance gets support from a map on the back of the new issue of "Panorama," New Mexico State's alumni magazine.
As of June 30, 2012, NMSU had "more than 107,000" alumni. I have no idea how many of them grew up in the state, much less were born here.
While just over half, 58,416, live in New Mexico, the cat on keeping the rest of them around is long since out of the bag. Every state has a sprinkling of Aggie alums including those with really small populations such as North Dakota (64) and Delaware (51).
Rhode Island, with 49, has the smallest alumni group. Texas of course has the largest at 14,842.
If our so-called leaders quit worrying about the stupid stuff, maybe there would be time to think about why our labor force participation is low (and dropping) and what might be done about the hundreds of millions of dollars between what the Department of Transportation would like to spend building and fixing roads and the money available.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Abq Homes Sales, Prices Up in December

The metro Albuquerque economy is a mess with private and public sector jobs disappearing. So is the state. The state employees commuting to Santa Fe still have their jobs, unlike many around the state, but there has been no raise in four years.
And single family detached home sales are increasing on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis in total defiance of seasonal and economic trends. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the December sales figures this afternoon.
During December, sale closed for 607 metro area single family detached homes. That was 55, or 10%, above November and 84, or 16%, above December 2011. Remember, sales are supposed to get slower as weather gets closer and families are distracted by Christmas. Maybe the December seasonal pattern is the opposite. It is now three consecutive years that December closed sales have increased from November.
Maybe some of that seasonality showed in the 720 December pending sales, which were down 59, or 8%, from November. But those pending sales jumped 19.6%, 118 units, from 602 in December 2011.
In arithmetic terms, the December sales performance has a simple explanation. A higher percentage of November’s pending sales of 779 units turned into sales closed during December. Sales closed during December were 78% of November’s pending. November closed sales were just 61% of pending October sales. October’s closed sales of 673 units were 76% of September’s pending sales.
Median and average sale prices were up from November and from December 2011. The median price was $169,500, a three percent increase from November and up six percent from December 2011. The median price was over $175,000 during five months of 2012, peaking at $175,000 in May and July.
The average price was $211,191, a mere $22 below the year’s highest average of $211,213, reached in May. The December average was three percent more than during November and up eight percent from December 2011.
The sale of two million dollar-plus homes, as compared none a year ago, helped the average.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NM Performance Reports Summarized: The Ugly Truth

The information that follows is taken from Harold Morgan's newspaper columns written in late 2012 and early 2013. The columns are syndicated to ten newspapers around New Mexico. The papers are in Raton, Farmington, Gallup, Espanola, Los Alamos, Socorro, Ruidoso, Roswell, Artesia and Hobbs.
Report methods vary. Specific ranks vary. But overall, we are low. Consistency counts. The public response remains the banal and conventional bemoaning of federal "dependence." To borrow Heather Wilson's elegant phrase, that's just stupid. Points missed include the huge variety of federal work, the crucial and unique nature of the key institutions, large and small, and, for me, the "dependence" metaphor, as if we stand passively.
The local media response was to whine about the quality of the statistics. Talk about missing the point….
Chief Executive Magazine
We rank 33rd in the 2012 survey of 650 business leaders by Chief Executive Magazine. Geographically we are between Texas and Arizona, respectively first and tenth in the survey. (See http://chiefexecutive.net/best-worst-states-for-business-2012.) On the map New Mexico gains attention in a subtle way; we are one of two states between the left (er, west) coast and the Mississippi River to place below 31st in the CEO estimation. Minnesota is the other.
CNBC Top States for Business
We tied Kentucky at 36. CNBC uses 43 measures of competitiveness gathered into ten categories weighted according to state use in economic development marketing material. The categories are weighted. Cost of doing business, workforce and quality of life share the highest possible totals, closely followed by infrastructure and economy. Education, technology and business friendliness are well behind.
For eight categories, New Mexico’s rank isn’t awful, ranging from 13 for infrastructure and transportation and 15 for the economy to 31 for cost of business and 32 for the technology and innovation.
Our performance in two lighter weighted categories pulls down New Mexico’s overall rank. We are 46th for education and 47th for business friendliness. Idaho, Arizona and Nevada are below us in education. Following us in business friendliness are those landmarks of regulatory disaster, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York.
Brookings Institution
The Brookings Institution Metro Monitor only considers Albuquerque But the use of location quotients offers statewide insight given that Albuquerque plus Santa Fe are half the state. Location quotients compare the given area’s concentration of employment in an industry to the national average. For the third quarter of 2012, Albuquerque’s government and construction employment were well above the nation. Excellent reasons exist for some of the extra government such as research by military personnel on Kirtland Air Force Base. That construction remains with higher than average employment, even after years of declines, suggests further reduction.
Albuquerque manufacturing employment is about half the national average. Not good. The proportion of manufacturing employment has dropped 40 percent since 2000, while government (public administration) is up 40 percent. Ugly.
Forbes.com, Best States for Business and Careers
Forbes mechanism is its Scorecard for Business Climates.
Forbes says, “New Mexico took the biggest tumble, down 11 spots to No. 43 as its current economic climate and growth prospects declined relative to the rest of the country from last year.”
The Scorecard groups 35 data points into six categories. For only one category are we in the top half. It is growth prospects, oddly enough, where we are 22nd. For four categories we average a mediocre 31st place—labor supply, business costs, economic climate and regulatory environment. The quality of life category where we are 49th pulls us into the lower ten.
Employment: Lea and Eddy Counties
The following year-over-year numbers all apply to the time between November 2011 and November 2012. Except for numbers from Lea and Eddy counties, the numbers are for wage jobs.
New Mexico lost 4,800 jobs for the year, all the losses from government. Nothing happened in terms of net job production in the private sector, where there are 611,200 jobs. State government lost 4,300 jobs, the feds 1,200, and local government added 700. (These numbers come from the Department of Workforce Services, not the state personnel office.)
The combined Albuquerque/Santa Fe state government job total remained 35,700, or two thirds of sector employment. A year ago state government showed 60,800 jobs, about half in education, with 25,100 outside the north central Rio Grande corridor. Now the outside-Albuquerque-Santa Fe total is 20,800, a 17 percent drop. Education jobs grew slightly, meaning that all the losses came in non-education jobs.
Three of the four metro areas lost 7,600 jobs together, led by Albuquerque, down 3,900. Though Albuquerque did maintain state government jobs, the feds and local government combined to lose 1,000 jobs. More significantly, 2,900 private sector jobs left the four-county Albuquerque metro.
For the Las Cruces metro (Dona Ana County), 2012 was economically awful. Total jobs dropped 2,500, or 3.5 percent, with 1,800 private sector jobs gone.
Throw in Farmington’s loss of 800 private sector jobs and the three metro areas lost 5,500 private jobs. That means the private sector in the 26 rural counties and Santa Fe gained 5,500 private sector jobs. Santa Fe did its part with 800 more private jobs, including 500 in leisure and hospitality.
The real private sector heroes are in Lea and Eddy counties where, together, employment grew by 3,910. (A different number from wage jobs, “employment” includes government. It is the only recent county-level number and close enough for our purposes here.)
Employment in Lea-Eddy grew 3,190 during the year. That’s a 6.9 percent expansion. Call it a boom. Together the two counties employ 60,770, ahead of metro Farmington. Lea County alone has the largest rural county employment with 30,720 in November. Eddy County was just behind at 30,050.
From the Bureau of the Census, our population was 2,085,538 as of July 1, 2012. During the year from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2012, a net of 7,577 people moved to elsewhere in the United States. (The figure comes from subtracting the number leaving from those coming.)
Only 2,328 (again a net figure) came moved here from outside the United States. Combine the two and we get what the Census geeks call “net negative migration” was 5,229 for the year. We have Harding County on a statewide scale.
“Death Spiral States” Forbes.com
We lead a group of eleven states called “death spiral states” by Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/sites/baldwin/2012/11/25/do-you-live-in-a-death-spiral-state/
“Death spiral” is harsh. So is the “taker/maker” distinction employed in the post by staffer William Baldwin, who says, “A taker is someone who draws money from (state or local) government, as an employee, pensioner or welfare recipient. A maker is someone gainfully employed in the private sector.” To make the spiral list, a state needs more takers than makers and to be in the lower half of a credit analysis by Conning & Co., a money manager that measures risk in insurance company portfolios.
New Mexico has the highest taker / maker ratio at 1.53. Mississippi is second. There it is. We’re in excusive company. California, New York and Illinois are among the eleven. The future is “a rising tax burden, deteriorating state finances and an exodus of employers,” Baldwin says.