Sunday, June 29, 2014

Not Quite the Worst Economy, But Close

The lead item from the Labor Market Review, the Department of Workforce Solutions newsletter that hit my email inbox at 4:21 PM the afternoon of June 27, is, "New Mexico’s rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing May 2014 with May 2013, was negative 0.1 percent, representing a loss of 600 jobs."
My initial understanding of the May numbers was that we were still the worst economy in the nation. Not quite the case, apparently. Our job loss percentage ties Washington, D.C., but Vermont beats us with a loss percentage of 0.2%. New Mexico’s comparative job performance continues to be buried without comment in the table on page 16 of the Labor Market Review.
Three of our four metro areas lost 4,000 jobs over the year: Albuquerque, -2,800; Las Cruces, -100; Farmington, -1,200. Only the Santa Fe metro gained jobs, a whopping 200, or 0.3%.
Government, down 2,500 jobs statewide, led the sector losers. Only 700 of those job losses were in the metro areas.
Thus the job gains were in the rural counties and in the private sector, enough to overcome the loss of 1,800 government jobs.
Growing sectors, May 2013 to May 2014.
Mining, retail, finance (?), education and health services, leisure and hospitality.
Loser sectors:
Manufacturing, construction, information, professional and business services, government.
National retailers new to New Mexico (Dick's Sporting Goods, Total Wine) must see growth. But where?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Abq Journal Op-Ed, 6/16/14

The material below ran as an op-ed piece on the editorial page in today's Albuquerque Journal. It was extracted from columns I wrote in April. Creating the op-ed was Rep. Hall's idea. Thanks Jimmie. - Harold Morgan


Nation’s Worst State Economy Is Here. But Why, Exactly?

By Rep. Jimmie Hall and Harold Morgan

The worst state economy in the nation is here. Albuquerqueans are very good at divorce. People are leaving the state. Incomes are flat.
These things go together.
For April, we lost wage jobs, year-over-year, for the fourth consecutive month, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We are one of three states with year-over-year losses, keeping us in the singular position of the worst nation’s state economy. We also led in month over month decline. The April-to-April decline was 4,400 jobs or 0.54 percent. Maybe it was newly divorced people leaving. Men’s Health magazine ranked divorce propensity in 100 cities. Albuquerque placed 99th.
Mapping county population change from 2008 and 2013 reveals a band of 15 population losers from northeast to southwest. From 2003 to 2008, 13 counties lost population. The trend has accelerated since 2010.
Births, deaths and moving sum to population change. Births minus deaths provide “natural increase.” Six counties, led by Sierra, had too few births to offset the number of deaths during 2010-to-2013. Moving, called “migration,” can be international or “domestic”—into or out of the state from the United States. Such moves tend to be for economic or family reasons.
Domestic movement is most important. For the three years from April 2010 to 2013, the departure total was 21,500. The most recent year July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013—produced 13,500 departures, almost two-thirds of the total. About 3,600 people left during each of the previous two years.
During the 2012-13 year, 3,000 people moved here from other places in the United States, making net domestic migration a negative 10,526. Lea and Eddy counties provided 90 percent of the migration gain. Babies explain the population growing 26,100 (to 2.08 million) between 2010 and 2013. The 89,000 new babies were 36,000 more than the 53,000 deaths.
Income reflects this. For 2013, total personal income increased 1.7 percent. That placed 48th nationally. The 2013 inflation of 1.6 percent nearly consumed the increased earnings. Transfer payments (welfare, social security, etc.) more than doubled the earnings increase from real work.
Anguish aside, last year’s report about being 50th in child poverty only reflects bigger issues, work in particular. People participating in the labor force either have a job or believe it worth seeking a job.
In August 2013, labor force participation nationally was 63.2 percent, the lowest since August 1978. For New Mexico, participation was 58.5 percent for April 2014, ahead of five states.
Government dominated counties lead labor force participation: Los Alamos has 67.2 percent participation, followed by Santa Fe, Bernalillo, and Curry. Much else happens in these counties besides national laboratories, state government and the military. But what? Getting to the detail would be useful and inexpensive.
McKinley County has the lowest labor force participation, meaning the least work done in a general sense, of our larger counties. In McKinley, participation is 52.2 percent, below West Virginia’s lowest state rate of 53.4 percent. Sierra, Guadalupe and Catron follow.
Agriculture receives little appreciation. While agriculture itself is only about two percent of our economy, Emily Kerr, a Dallas Federal Reserve Bank economist, says that including linkages takes the total impact to around nine percent. With chile a small sector—cash receipts of $46.7 million in 2011—identifying those linkages to understand the full impact becomes more important. Maybe chile is a $200 million economic sector.
Chile linkages include cultural essence, farm machinery and fertilizer, transportation, food processing, recreation, various retail, literature and publishing, cuisine, tourism, government (extension service and research), international relations (the international chile conference and the research deal between NMSU and a Korean university).
Discovering the reasons behind all this bad stuff and identifying opportunities would be good first steps toward improvement.

Jimmie Hall is a state representative from Albuquerque. Harold Morgan’s weekly column is syndicated to nine community newspapers.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Filming Returns. So does Uncompensated Individual Subsidy.

Filming has returned to my neighborhood and, with it, a reminder about the subsidies.
The filming was supposed to be yesterday with an arterial street blocked for nine hours.
The subsidy thing is that while the state’s subsidy to film companies is something with which I disagree, the matter has been well discussed and is in place. What remains mostly not considered is the subsidy through disruption of individual daily activity imposed by, in this case, closing of the street which will affect several thousand people.
If a street is closed, drivers must go around. That takes time, creating a loss of productivity, consumption of more gasoline and more. The element of surprise adds annoyance.
If I got paid for my inconvenience, say, $100 as a flat fee, I might not care. For now I continue to wonder why I am supposed to be inconvenienced without objection to help a private business.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Abq April Job Losses Behind Only Detroit

BLS 5/28/14
Between April 2013 and April 2014,the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, “the largest over-the-year decrease in employment occurred in Detroit-Warren-
Livonia, Mich. (-5,500), followed by Albuquerque, N.M. (-4,500), and Atlantic City-
Hammonton, N.J. (-3,700). The largest over-the-year percentage decreases in
employment (3.7%) occurred in Farmington, N.M.”
The BLS report the figures May 28. Rarified company, indeed..

Metro Abq Closed Sales Up During May; Pending Sales Down

During May, pending sales, a key real estate market indicator, remained below the year ago period as it has for all of 2014. Pending sales in metro Albuquerque were 996 during May 2014, according to the monthly sales report released this afternoon by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors. The May pending sales figure was 5.4% behind May 2013.
However, closed sales, 797 during May, continued the steady monthly increase that has characterized 2014 (other than the 26% jump between February and March). Closed sales were behind the year-ago period for the second month. Closed sales were 11.7% behind the 903 sales closed during May 2013, but well ahead of the 737 closed during May 2012.
Both the median and average sales prices hit 2014 highs during May. The May median price was $180,000, three percent more than both April 2014 and May 2013. The average price, $223,193, was $7,633, or four percent, up from April 2014 and 5.5% ahead of May 2014. The average price got a boost from the closing during the month of the sale of six homes worth $1 million or more.
May provided the quickest home sales of 2014 with 67 being the average number of days a closed sale was on the market. That was four days less than April but two days more than May 2013.
From the zip code sales sampler, 87106 had 49 active listings during May 2013 with 19 sales and 2.1% of all sales. During May 2014, 87106 had 74 listing and 19 sales for 2.4% of the market.
During May 2013, the zip code with the most listings, 87031, had 245 listings with 26 sales and 2.9% of sales. The zip code had 240 listings, 33 sales and 4.1% of the market during May 2014.