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:
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 ( The report is the annual State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report. Find it at—-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.