Sunday, May 25, 2014

“New Mexico A History” More Than Imperfect

In my recent column about government dependence, “imperfect” was the description for “New Mexico A History” (by Joseph P. Sanchez, Robert Spude and Art Gomez, University of Oklahoma Press,, 2013). I was being nice.
The book provided for my column purposes a useful if occasionally confusing description of the careers of Mayor / Governor Clyde Tingly and Sen. Dennis Chvez. As a small example, I got Chavez’ date of death from Wikipedia. For non-readers of the column, the point was that we have been chasing the government dollar in New Mexico just about forever, so the present whining about “government dependence” becomes even more that just—whining.
In “New Mexico A History,” there are no footnotes and no bibliography. A historian friend says this is a major no-no for history books.
The first situation (page 195) gaining my attention in a negative way probably had to do with the infamous “unamendables” clause. I say probably because the authors did not use that well recognized phrase (by New Mexico constitution nerds), but writing about creating the constitution, they said, “Equally important to Hispanics was a clause that made it nearly impossible to amend the constitution.”
With regard to our much-amended constitution, that’s simply not true. However it is not clear that the sentence applies to the entire constitution. Sloppy at best. What were the OU Press editors?
Sentences scream for footnotes.
They talk about the “Clovis subdivision” rail line without being clear where that is. Then, “The Clovis subdivision remains the busiest line in the Western Hemisphere to this day.” Oh? Who says?
They seem confused about when Intel came to Rio Rancho, which was 1981. I wrote about it at the time. Consider, “Rio Rancho, home to Intel and other notable high tech firms, doubled in size during this period.” The dates in this paragraph identifying “this period” were 1950 to 1970. Rio Rancho hardly existed in 1970 and for sure was not incorporated, so getting population figures would have been a chore.
The Hyatt in downtown Albuquerque is alleged to have been there in 1970. Not true. It was 1990.
About half of page 326 goes to the Pegasus Global Holdings project that was a promotion all the way and, so far as I know, has not yet happened. Of the project, Wikipedia says, “Construction was scheduled to start in June 2012, but was cancelled in July 2012. Pegasus Global Holdings' decision to build the city arose from their own testing needs. As of August 2013, the project appeared dead.”
Politics joined inaccuracy with inclusion of the criticism of Intel’s water use that developed after Intel’s huge expansion in the early 1990s. (The expansion wasn’t mentioned, just the water use criticism.) No mention appeared of Intel’s work to reduce it water use. (I was in some of those meetings.) In the water use discussion (or whatever it was), Hewlett-Packard, which came to Rio Rancho in 2009 with a customer service center (a call center in other words), was taken together with Intel which appeared 28 years earlier.
There is more. All in all, very annoying.

Bibliographies and Footnotes Part of History Books

I checked my bookshelf for history bibliographies. In no particular order:
 New Mexico An Interpretive History by Marc Simmons. A list of books titled, “For further reading.” No footnotes.
 New Mexico Past and Future, Thomas E Chavez. What he called a “Selected Bibliography.” 13 pages, approx 125 entries.
 Telling New Mexico A New History, edited by Marta Weigle. The list was titled “references cited.” approx 225 entries
 The Myth of Santa Fe Creating a Modern Regional Tradition, Chris Wilson. Footnotes with the reference at the back of the book. Wilson made a different choice. He said at the start of the Notes section, “Because I have dispensed with a comprehensive bibliography in the name of economy, sources are given in full (in the footnote) the first time they appear in a chapter.”
In the first footnote, Wilson quotes Robert Redford from a "Rolling Stone,” interview, saying, “The Milagro Beanfield War (the movie) had to do with the rhythms of a culture that had no information access, that had no television or radio.” Wilson then observes, “The ignorance of the region’s history betrayed by this classic romantic construction goes a long way toward explaining the film’s reliance on stereotypes.”

Friday, May 23, 2014

Albuquerque Leads April-to-April Job Losses, down 4,500

Maybe I mis-read the BLS job report last week when I said New Mexico was one of two states to lose wage jobs between April 2013 and April 2014. The updated report from the Department of Workforce Solutions places us alone at the bottom, our 4,400 fewer wage jobs making us the only state with year over year losses. The report, in the form of DWS “Labor Market Review” newsletter was released late (as usual) this afternoon. Also as usual the job-loss ranking was discretely tucked into job loss ranking chart on page 16 and not mentioned elsewhere.
Albuquerque more than explains the losses by being down 4,500 jobs for the year. Farmington contributes 1,900 fewer jobs with Las Cruces down 100, making for a three-metro job loss total of 6,500. Santa Fe added 300 jobs and the 26 non-metro counties added 2,100.
Statewide, government was the leading loss sector, minus 2,800 April-to-April. The feds dropped 1,100 jobs, the state 100 and local government lost 1,600 jobs including 1,500 in education, the public schools, I guess.
By sector, the Albuquerque losses are broad: professional and business services, - 1,400; construction, - 1,200; manufacturing, - 1,100; information, - 700; leisure and hospitality, - 600.
Statewide finance is the sector growth leader, up 2,200 over the year, or 6.7%. The continued high growth in a service sector without a real product remains a mystery. Considering the metros deepens the finance mystery for me. The three large metro areas added 300 finance jobs between them—400 in Albuquerque, none in Las Cruces and Santa Fe lost 100. That means Farmington and the 26 non-metro counties found 1,900 new finance jobs between April 2013 and April 2014. Not banking, for sure, which employs about a quarter of the finance sector, according to County Business Patterns. And in any case the finance jobs will concentrate in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
The Albuquerque vs. the rest of the state retail situation is clarified a little with the report that Albuquerque dropped 100 retail jobs over the year as the state gained 1,400.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Stagnation is Regional: Abq Beats El Paso and Tucson

The stagnation or slump or whatever one calls it is regional if one judges by population growth. That means that whatever is not happening is more than not happening with federal research organizations.
The Census Bureau released city population figures today. Albuquerque’s 2012-2013 growth was all of 0.34%, or 1,874 people. The 2013 Duke City population is an estimated 556,495. Note this is just the city. The metro are has four counties including Sandoval, which means Rio Rancho, population 91,950, plus 1.3% or 1,181. The RR performance jibes with a Wall Street Journal article about the new numbers which said suburban growth is back to running ahead of central cities, just a bit anyway.
In the region, Albuquerque’s one-year growth was ahead of Tucson, population 556,495, growth of 0.25%, or 1,315. El Paso, population 674,433, plus 1,874, or 309. Both cities have a large federal presence, El Paso with recently hugely expanded Fort Bliss, and Tucson with Davis–Monthan Air Force Base.
Other growth rates were Santa Fe (+ 0.9%, population 69,976); Omaha, +1.28%; Colorado Springs, + 1.46%; and Denver booming at + 2.36%.
All the more reason (broken record time here) to understand what really is happening with the 31 New Mexico counties not named Lea and Eddy.

Friday, May 16, 2014

NM Economy: Holding as Nation's Worst

New Mexico continues to offer its citizens the worst performing state economy in the nation.
Today’s monthly Department of Workforce Solutions jobs release appeared about 3:00 P.M. The headline is about the unemployment rate. That’s just absurd. Look at the release, and ,yes, in the second paragraph DWS says we lost jobs year-over-year.
Look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics release, which appeared at 10 A.M. EDT and learn what DWS does not say. See, the top item on the page. We have lost wage jobs, year-over-year, for the fourth month in a row. We are one of two states with year-over-year losses, keeping us in the singular position of the worst state economy in the nation. We also led in month over month decline.
The April to April decline is 4,400 jobs or 0.54% (just over one half of one percent). That is my computation, using the not-seasonally adjusted table for wage jobs.
The BLS says, "The largest over-the-month percentage declines in employment occurred in Maine (-0.4 percent), Wyoming (-0.3 percent), and New Mexico (-0.2 percent)…. The only over-the-year percentage decreases in employment occurred in New Mexico (-0.7 percent) and Virginia (-0.1 percent)." The BLS statement is pasted from their release.
As to the politicians, I annoyed with all of them. DWS is either just dense or, what I suspect, hiding things. The Democrat governor candidates have no clue. Raise the minimum wage? Give me a break. Pandering.
In January UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research forecast 2014 wage job growth of 1.4%. The BBER excuse for bad numbers, typically swallowed whole by Win Quigley of the Albuquerque Journal, is that the statistics are funky and things are better than the numbers show. I think that begs the question. OK, if the numbers are procedurally funky, why, what can be done to fix them and what really is happening?
Year over year sector performance includes: Mining (+1,300, 5%); Manufacturing (-2,000, -6.9%); Financial (+2,200, +6.7%); Professional and business services (-2,100, -2.1%); Government (-2,800, -1.4%)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

April Home Sales Nudge Up, Prices Up More

During April both closed and pending sales of metro Albuquerque single family detached homes nudged up from March. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the March sales report yesterday afternoon.
April’s 721 closed sales were 26 units, or 3.7%, above March. Pending sales also increased 26 units to 976, but the percentage gains with 2.7%.
Closed sales were eight units behind March 2013. While both pending and closed sales have increased each month of 2014, the pending sales continue to run well behind the 2013 performance. The pending sales percentage deficiency was 23.7% from March 2013, the largest percentage lag of the year.
Homes sold during April at an average rate of 2.367 per day, a smidge faster than the 2.387 average of March. The average home with a sale closed during April was on the market 71 days, one day more than April 2013.
Prices made sellers, at least those selling higher priced homes, happier during April. The average selling price was $215,560, up 6.4% from March and an 8.9% increase from April 2013. The increase came from sales in the five price groups starting at $250,000 being up from 2013.
April’s median price, $175,000, showed a $7,000, of 4.2%, hike from April 2013 and a $5,000, or 2.9%, increase from March.
Of the 950 homes with a sale pending during March, 76% moved to a closed sale for April.
For attached homes (townhouses and condominiums) pending sales activity mirrors that of detached homes in being well down from 2013. The percentage drop is greater, though. Closed sales of attached homes increased, on a year-over-year basis for the first three months of 2014, but the 52 attached homes sold during April were 28% behind April 2013.