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).