Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Business "Climate"

A friend from New England works for a large national organization that has a branch in Albuquerque. Recently a New England colleague of my friend called an Albuquerque colleague and inquire about the meth atmosphere in Albuquerque. This environment was all too well portrayed in the "Breaking Bad" television series. While one can't complain about the Albuquerque businesses offering tours of the sites seen in "Breaking Bad" and in the "Better Call Saul" series, this overlay (underlay?) on the Duke City's reputation could be one of those other-things-equal decision points that would drive a business or an individual to locate elsewhere.

Friday, December 18, 2015

NM Continues as Unemployment Rate Leader

A statistically significant seasonally adjusted job gain of 3,900 happened in New Mexico Between October and November. But it was little enough to keep us at the bottom (or top) of the unemployment rate rankings with 6.8% unemployed, up from 6.1% in November 2014, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released this morning.
The 6.8% unemployment rate was unchanged from October (and, indeed, unchanged from September. We now have the nation’s highest unemployment rate, up (or down) one place from October. We continue, therefore, with the nation’s worst economy.
New Mexicans are dropping from the labor force. Some of those not working have gone back to not bothering looking for work. The labor force dropped 2,100 from 916,600 in November 2014 to 914,700 last month, a drop of two tenths of one percent (0.02%). The more serious deterioration has been since September when the labor force was 923,500. The two-month seasonally adjusted decline is 8,800 people, or 0.95%, more than four times the year-over-year rate.
Meanwhile 6,100 more people have become unemployed year-over-year.
Unemployment has been steady at around 62,000 the past three months with the unemployment rate at 6.8%. That means the unemployment rate increase between November 2014 and November 2015 have come because of the drop in the labor force, because of people giving up this work thing.
“Employment” is defined as the labor force count minus unemployment. Employment dropped 8,000, or 0.93%, year over year.
Wage employment, the “other” set of job numbers, puts us in a bit better light. Between November 2014 and November 2015, seasonally adjusted wage employment increased 3,000 or a whopping 0.36% (a bit more than three tenths of one percent).
Separate surveys produce the separate numbers.
The Department of Workforce Solutions reported the unemployment rate in its release in mid-afternoon. DWS ignored our national unemployment rate standing. Gee.
The seasonally unadjusted sector wage job growth leaders between November 2014 and November 2015 were leisure and hospitality, up 3,100 jobs, or 3.5%, education and health services, up 2,900 jobs, or 2.2%, and professional and business services, up 2,800 jobs, or 2.8%.
Mining, meaning oil and gas, was down 2,900 jobs. Manufacturing and transportation both lost 1,100 jobs over the year.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fundamental Issues Confronting New Mexico Today

Revised 2015. Prepared for discussion by Harold Morgan, syndicated columnist

In this week's newspaper column I promised to post the revised list of what I consider fundamental issues facing New Mexico. These issues provide the basis for much of what appears in the column each week. While the list is incomplete, it provides a broad framework of deep, structural matters needing attention. How to take discussion of these issues to the rest of state is the problem. I'm working on an idea, a series of conferences, which of course would cost money. If you have any thoughts on the issues list and/or on how to bring the issues to a wider audience, email to - Harold

Some major institutional issues (including the usual suspects, such as water, agriculture and energy) are listed alphabetically:
• A majority of Hispanics tracing their heritage to Mexico. Cultural differences with traditional northern Hispanics.
• A state economy crossing multiple sectors and therefore not usefully measured. Generally we do science (labs to Intel) and work deriving from the land and culture (tourism, agriculture, literature, the Museum of New Mexico). Pure national defense (Holloman, Cannon) is a separate, smaller sector.
Economic activity should be identified to include everything associated with the business. Mines and smelters should go together. Aggregating everything involved with agriculture might take the sector from two percent of the economy to nine percent.
Comprehensive arts sector study released in 2014 indicates measurement approach as does the 2015 Borderplex Strategic Plan.
• Broadband (transportation of information).
• Environmentalist politics.
• Financial institution capability and role of community banks. Dodd-Frank regulations increase costs and constrain lending, more so in smaller communities.
• “Government dependence.” “Too much,” it is always alleged. In New Mexico federal activities are appropriate—border administration, land management, Indian affairs (see Native American, below). Research, itself widely varied. Military. Culture creates process orientation.
• Labor force participation. Low for decades.
• Land use and ownership. The private sector is the biggest owner of land in the state with 44 percent. Surprise! The feds own about a third of the state—34.3 percent—with the state at 12 percent and tribes with 9.4 percent. Private land ownership ranges from 6 percent in San Juan County to 93 percent in Curry County. These are old numbers and may have changed a little.
• Native American. Tribes, comprising almost ten percent of New Mexicans, are said to consider themselves ignored, not “at the table.” The Traditional Cultural Property dispute, fundamentally about theology and bureaucracy, has a major land use component. (See PERC Reports, Summer / Fall 2012, or Custodial “trust” relationship with federal government inhibits reservation economic activity.
• New Mexico as the nation’s number two majority-minority state.
• Non-farm proprietorships (commonly without employees).
• Northern counties as “rural ghetto.”
• Population change driven by new babies. Adults provide the smaller portion of our population growth. But adults are the ones who pay taxes. Babies consume taxes. Increasing movement to other states. Population decline in 2014.
• Technology transfer: Being in the national defense business with an emphasis on nuclear limits development of an entrepreneurial culture. Some technology heads to the private sector. Los Alamos National Laboratory has recently restructured its approach. Recent awards for technologies involving contaminant removal, filtering water, open software wireless well monitoring and recycling Strontium-82 generated enthusiastic news releases and headlines.
• New Mexico’s Constitution.
• Transportation – highways, that is. Nine figure gap between desired construction and maintenance and money available.
• Underground or shadow economy. The only available estimates says 9.3% of New Mexico’s gross state product operates “off the books.” Aspects: cash only, no regular healthcare, no use of banks, inability to grow businesses. See non-farm proprietorships.
• Uneducated young people. That our kids can’t read is bad enough. History courses appear to be process. Knowing the facts—who won the particular war—is necessary before the processes. A high school catalogue calls New Mexico history a semester-long survey “with an emphasis on the 20th century to the present.” The 17th, 18th and 19th centuries don’t count much.
The economics course cites “government agencies” as the first player in the “allocation of scarce resources and the economic reasoning.” People are mentioned but not markets.
• Communication: Perhaps the biggest challenge. New Mexico is a big state with 77.9 million acres, or 121,335 square miles. Just over half of us live in the north central Rio Grande Valley from Belen to Velarde. The rest of us live everywhere else.
Events in one corner of the state fail to penetrate the other corner. The private sector might step up here.

Colorado Column 2014, No. 1

In my newspaper column that will appear in nine community newspapers around the state this week, I wrote about New Mexico's (non) rankings among the 50 state on 109 factors listed in the new edition of “Toward a More Competitive Colorado.” I promised to post for comparison the columns about the 2014 edition of the publication. The first column follows. The second column is the next post. - Harold Morgan


Colorado Comparison Part One: Things Can Change

By Harold Morgan

If Colorado’s leaders are smarter than those in New Mexico, something I don’t believe, they can’t be that (BF? Ital?) much smarter. After all, to determine our performance in a host of categories, we can freeload off Colorado and save work and money. The reference here is to the just released 10th edition of “Toward a More Competitive Colorado,” a comprehensive look at nine general categories, each with up to a dozen components. To find the report, go to and look in the research and reports section.
New Mexico’s various national rankings are what this column and the next are about. But the other important point, maybe the important point, is that things can change and change for the better. In 2013 Colorado was third for job growth. It was 49th in 2002 after what the report calls “the ‘dot.bomb’ recession.”
Many of the comparisons are ugly. But facing these things offers a place to begin a vision. Colorado seems in the top handful on just about everything. New Mexico, well, not so much.
Necessarily the report deals with the past; most tables use data through 2013. In the present, New Mexico tied Idaho for 34th place among the states in job production performance between October 2013 and 2014. Alaska was the only state losing jobs during the year. New Mexico’s four neighboring state all finished in the top ten for job growth percentage. Texas was 2nd; Utah 3rd; Arizona 8th, and Colorado 9th.
For economic outlook, the American Legislative Council places New Mexico 37th. New Mexico’s outlook has been in the mid-thirties since dropping ten places in 2010. Colorado’s outlook has slipped. “The economic outlook for all (Colorado’s) competitor states except New Mexico surpassed Colorado in 2013 and 2014,” the report says.
The big categories are economic vitality, innovation, taxes, livability, K-12 education, higher education, health, infrastructure and international.
The overall infrastructure index from the Beacon Hill Institute puts New Mexico 42nd in 2013 after a bump to 22nd in 2008. The index measures “concentration of mobile phones, access to high-speed broadband, air travel, worker commute times, and access to an affordable cost of living.”
Getting federal money for highways is a place where New Mexico does well. The criteria seem to be few people and much land. New Mexico is 11th in per capita federal highway money (Alaska is first, Wyoming, 2nd) and 7th in “highway performance,” according to the Reason Foundation. This measure leaves unexplained the nine figure gap between available money and what the Department of Transportation would like to build and fix.
Health is another matter. We are 48th in the percentage of the population with health insurance. For registered nurses per 100,000 people, we are 43rd, not good but a six-place improvement since 2008.
Subsidized energy is big. New Mexico is fourth in installed solar energy. Colorado is sixth. Colorado is tenth in wind with New Mexico 18th.
Population growth rate reflects the decisions of many people. Our neighbors live in the top ten. Utah is 2nd, Colorado 3rd, Texas 4th, Arizona 8th, and New Mexico almost last at 48th.
People moving here come to the state with the ninth highest per capita state government spending. Our low property tax status disappears when comparing the largest city in each state. New Mexico, i.e., Albuquerque, is 25th. Only California and Minnesota claim higher business taxes than New Mexico. “New Mexico’s top corporate income tax rate and its higher sales, gross receipts, and excise tax burdens are challenges,” the report says.
“Challenges” is the report’s double-speak word for “problems.” More next week on the opportunities and the problems including the economic vitality rankings.

Colorado Column, 2014, No. 2

Harold Morgan/ New Mexico Progress

“Oil Curse” Is Invented

By Harold Morgan
New Mexico Progress

Forty-fourth is New Mexico’s position on a State Competitiveness Index from the Beacon Hill Institute, and it’s included as the first item in “Toward a More Competitive Colorado,” an annual publication of the Denver Chamber of Commerce.
Eighth place for openness and environmental policy was New Mexico’s highest competitiveness sub-index ranking.
“Competitiveness is a useful concept that points us to the micro‐foundations — the right mix of policies and endowments — that lead to prosperity,” Beacon said in announcing the 2013 rankings. As usual, our neighbors ranked well above New Mexico. Colorado, Utah and Texas were, respectively 7th, 8th, and 9th.
Definitions of economic competitiveness are fuzzy. One suggestion is how well a state marshals resources for prosperity. In the political and policy dialogue, competitiveness seems to mean how well one state compares to another for those businesses seeking a location for a new facility.
State competitiveness leads the economic vitality section. The remaining ratings are for “new economy,” employment growth, gross domestic product per employee, per capita income and economic outlook.
At 37th among the states, our economic outlook isn’t that bad. We could be New York (50th) or Vermont (49th). Vermont and New York lead per-student spending in public schools. We should be with Utah (1st) and Arizona (7th). The outlook comes from the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The Innovation category leads with a state innovation index from the federal Economic Development Administration that seems to measure pervasive technology. Massachusetts leads, with California second, Idaho third (no idea about that one) and Washington fourth (Microsoft, Amazon, etc.) New Mexico is 25 for 2013, down four places from the two previous years.
Montana and Alaska, respectively, lead the entrepreneurial index. We are eighth, well above the innovation rank. For California and Colorado, innovation and entrepreneurialism rankings closely associate. I wonder if New Mexico’s situation might be much more characterized by the one-person businesses. As a percentage of employment, New Mexico’s proprietors are 29th. The small business survival index ranks New Mexico 27th.
In theory, our long leadership in the ratio of research and development spending to state gross domestic product should translate to high per capita R&D spending at our universities. Wrong. The academic spending rank is 21st after being sixth and ninth a few years ago. One can only speculate about the reasons.
The Milken Institute’s State Technology and Science index puts us 22nd for 2012. Massachusetts, Maryland, California and Colorado lead in that order. We do have a lot of high tech employment, sixth per 1,000 workers, but apparently they aren’t that well paid; the average wage is 22nd. Curious.
New Mexico’s oft-cited sunsets apparently add little livability. The well being index places us 33rd. The Dakotas lead. Money and employment must bring happiness. Check with Lea and Eddy county residents on this point. Third place Nebraska is nice but without the psychic sunset appeal. The football, perhaps?
Our sunsets draw few people. Our 2013 population growth placed 48th, ahead of coal-ridden West Virginia and really cold Maine. Utah and Colorado, both blessed with functioning economies, are second and third in population growth.
A thorough review of the Competitive Colorado report might spark understanding of our state’s situation. Or as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Nov. 4 in his election victory speech, “We believe you should build the economy from ground up that’s new and fresh and organic.”
For now we’re stuck with the latest Albuquerque pundit complaint that we have an “Oil Curse,” that masses of resource money will destroy us just like Equatorial Guinea and other sixth world countries. That’s wrong, bizarre, stupid and insulting.
New and fresh and organic. I like that.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Home Sales Continue Ahead of 2014

The metro Albuquerque real estate performance for both single family houses and townhouses/condominiums continued in November to run nicely ahead of the month a year ago, according to the November sales report released today by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
Closed sales for single family homes were 652 in November, 8.5% ahead of November 2014. Seasonality stepped into the November sales picture with a 183 unit, or 22%, drop from October. Sales during November 2014 were 21% below October 2014.
November showed 794 pending sales, 56 homes or 7.6% ahead of a year ago. Pending sales dropped 17% from October.
Homes sold during November were on the market an average of 62 days. May was the last month when the days-on-market period was last over 60 days.
The median single family detached home price was $180,000 during November. That was down $5,000 from October, but remained ahead of October 2014 by $5,000. The average price, $213,686, was down one percent or about $2,200 from November 2014 and also down from October by about $2,600. The average price is down around $13,000 since hitting $226,337 in June, the high for the year.
No $1 million-plus homes closed sale during November.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Home Sales Cool For Fall, Continue Above 2014

Seasonality appeared in metro Albuquerque’s real estate market during October as sales of single family detached homes dropped 6.7% from September’s closed sales of 886 homes to 835 in October. The improved market is seen in October’s 10.2% sales increase over the 758 sales in October 2014.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the October sales report this afternoon.
Pending sales were 958 homes during October, a seasonal-looking 4.2%, or 42 homes, from 1,000 sales that were pending during September. October saw 83% of the September pending sales turn into closed sales. Pending sales were more than 1,000 homes for seven months ending in September.
Those October sales that closed were on the market an average of 59 days, marking the fifth consecutive month with an average sales period of less than 60 days.
The median sales price of $185,000 during October was up 5.7% from October 2014 and increased 11.4% from October 2013. The median price increased 2.2% from $180,850 in September.
By contrast, the average prices dropped $8,101 from September to $216,252 in October. That was a 3.6% decline. Speculation here, but the decline from September might be partly due to no one dollar million plus priced homes selling during September and punching up the average.
The October sales came in a market where sellers continue to offer less product to buyers. Available listings were 3,763 during October, a 20% drop from October 2014. This was the third month with a year over year inventory decline of around 20%.
Attached homes and condominiums show about the same pattern as the detached homes with closed and pending sales well up from October 2014 and the number of listings down 24% from a year ago.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Abq, Farmington Dominate Job Growth

The Albuquerque/Farmington metro job growth combo continued to dominate the state in the year from September 2014 to September 2015. The year-on-year switch from recent months is that the rest of the state lost jobs if one subtracts the 8,700 new wage jobs in Albuquerque and Farmington.
The statewide gain was 7,600 jobs, a 0.9% increase that trailed every state in the region except Wyoming, which isn’t quite in the southwest and which lost 0.9% of its jobs. Oklahoma’s 0.1% increase was closed to New Mexico. Job growth in the other states bordering New Mexico was 1.7%, Colorado; 1.9%, Texas; 2.3% Arizona; 3.9% Utah.
The numbers here are not seasonally adjusted.
At 2.1%, Albuquerque’s annual increase of 7,800 jobs was decent on a percentage basis. Farmington’s 900-job increase was 1.8%. The Las Cruces recession continued with a 1,300-job or 1.8% job loss for period. Santa Fe dropped 100 jobs.
The figures were released yesterday in the Labor Market Review newsletter of the Department of Workforce Solutions.
In Albuquerque the big gainers year-over-year were professional and business services (+3,000); construction (+2,000); education and health services (+1,900); and leisure and hospitality (+1,400). Manufacturing, retail and government together lost 800 obs.
For Las Cruces, professional and business services (-700) and construction (-600) explain the job losses. Smaller losses in manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, services and government were offset by gains in education and health services, retail and transportation.
In oil news, employment Lea County employment was down 1,500 for the year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mediocre Job Growth continues, Unemployment Rate Up

During September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, 37 states and the District of Columbia showed a lower unemployment than in August. Six states were higher, seven showed no change.
New Mexico was one of the six with 6.8% unemployment in September, 6.7% in August and 5.9% in September 2014.
One reason for the unemployment rate increase is that our labor force grew by 7,000 people in the year between September 2014 and September 2015. Employment went from 858,900 in September 2014 to 861,200 a year later.
One might argue that once people are optimistic enough to join the labor force and seek employment, it takes a while to get the job. A ringer in the logic is that on a seasonally adjusted basis, the labor force has dropped 6,100 since July to 923,700 in September.
Remove the adjustment and our labor force—916,300 in September—is down a bit during the year and up by 1,300 since August.
Wage job growth over the year hung in at mediocre with 0,9% increase, or 7,600 jobs. Still, jobs are jobs.
The sector growth leader was education and health services, up 2,900 jobs, or 2.2% for the year. Second place went to leisure and hospitality, tourism in other words, with a 2.7%, or 2,500-job, one-year increase or about a third of the state’s total gain. Tourism dropped 3,200 jobs in August, presumably as the temporary hires became unhired. Professional and business services was third with 2,000 more jobs over the year, though down 1,000 from August.
Mining, meaning oil and gas, was the leading sector loser, down 1,100 jobs. Retail trade dropped 700 job while whole increase 300.
Local government growth continues with 900 more jobs, 400 of them in education.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Metro Home Sales Continue Well Above 2014

New mortgage rules, effective this month, may squeeze home sales nationally, reported the Wall Street today, just as the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors issued the September sales report. In theory the new rules are supposed to make it easier to understand mortgage terms. But, following the rule about never being able to do just one thing, other pieces of the mortgage process have changed with possible negative effects.
Other proposed federal rules have driven some big lenders from the mortgage business. J.P. Morgan has mostly dropped FHA lending, which will hurt first-time and credit-poor buyers. Wells Fargo will raise its minimum credit score from 600 to 640.
In metro Albuquerque during September, closed sales of single family detached homes dropped 62 units, or 7%, from August. Pending sales dropped 8%, or 87 units, from August. The changes appear to be seasonal as sales slow during the fall from the summer.
Closed sales were 886 homes during September. Pending sales were 1,000 homes. September closed sales were 82% of the 1,087 sales that were pending during August.
The home that closed sales were on the market an average of 57 days, the fourth consecutive month under 60 days.
The September sales performance remained well ahead of 2014. Closed sales increased 26% from September 2014 with pending sales up 17%.
The average sales price for September, $224,353, was the third highest of 2015, but just a whisker behind June and August which both were just over $226,000. The average sales price appears to have gotten a boost from strong sales in the higher price categories, those including homes priced at more than $250,000.
However, the median price, $180,850, was down $9,100, or 5% from August, and was the third lowest price since May. Even so, the September median was up 3.3% from a year ago.
The absorption rate dropped to 4.87 months for September, meaning that it would take 4.87 months to sell the metro’s current inventory of homes. A six-month supply is the traditional definition of an average market, GAAR says. The absorption rate has been below six months since December 2014.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Metro Albuquerque Leads in August Job Gains

August wage job numbers for metro areas show Albuquerque continuing to dominate the metro and state performance (now there’s a switch from the past few years) with Farmington well behind, Santa Fe with no growth and Las Cruces losing. The Department of Workforce Solutions released the numbers late Friday with the issue of its Labor Market Review newsletter.
Albuquerque added 5,500 new jobs between August 2014 and August 2015. Education and health services “only” added 2,100 new jobs over the year, 38% of the Albuquerque total. EHS added 183% of the state’s 3,000 net jobs for the period. At 0.4%, the state’s jobs growth year-over-year ranked 45th nationally. Three states gained jobs at a lower rate than New Mexico and three states lost jobs.
Professional and business services led Albuquerque’s gains with 2,500 jobs. The Duke City’s other gainers were construction, +900, and leisure and hospitality (tourism), +800.
DWS does not provide detail that would allow us to explain Farmington’s 800 net new jobs.
In Santa Fe, EHS and tourism (leisure and hospitality) were the sector leaders, up 500 and 200 jobs respectively over the year. Construction lost 600 jobs.
Las Cruces’ year-over-year jobs losses were led by 900 fewer jobs in professional businesses services and a drop of 700 in construction.
The statewide net new job total was 2,800 between July and August with government provided 5,500 jobs and construction losing 2,500. Three quarters of the August government jobs came from local government education, meaning that school started. These figures are not seasonally adjusted. Over the August-to-August year, local government education lost 1,300 jobs, again not seasonally adjusted.

Friday, September 18, 2015

August Job Report: Govt, Construction, Services, Mining Lose Big

Real job growth disappeared in New Mexico during August, as compared to August 2014. What that means is that the education and health services sector produced 5,500 new wage jobs during the year. Since the sector is driven by Medicaid growth, I don’t consider the jobs real, in the sense of producing wealth for New Mexicans and building the state.
The Department of Workforce Solutions and the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the August job summary this afternoon.
The state generated 3,000 new jobs, year-over-year. All the other sectors lost 2,500 jobs. Education and health services made up the difference. Leisure and hospitality (tourism) produced 3,300 new jobs. So the rest of the state, minus those two, lost 5,800 jobs. That’s a lot.
Government, down 2,200, led the losers, followed by “other services,” minus 1,500. Construction lost 2,000 jobs. The oil slump caught up with New Mexico, producing the loss of 1,000 jobs in mining, which includes oil and gas.
The only other good news was 1,300 jobs, year-over-year, in professional and business services.
The unemployment rate nudged up to 6.7% from 6.5% in July and 6.4% in July 2014. New Mexico and Nebraska were the only two states with statistically significant unemployment rate increases.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

August Abq Home Sales Drop From July

The Business First newspaper accepted the word from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors that August was a good month for home sales in metro Albuquerque. And it was a good month, but GAAR, which released the August sales report today, was blowing a little smoke.
The good news came in comparison to August 2014. In comparison to July and June, the indicators were down.
During August, buyers closed on 948 home purchases, 15% more than the 22 sales closed during August 2014. Homes with the sale pending during August were 1,087, a 27% increase from a year before.
Closed and pending sales were down six percent from July and also declined from June.
The homes that closed were on the market an average of 54 days, two days quicker than June and five days ahead of August.
Sales of townhouses and condominiums behaved in roughly the same way with a nice increase from August 2014 and down from July 2015. A difference with detached homes is that condo sales prices, both the median and the average, dropped from July and from August 2014.
For detached homes, median and average prices increased from July—7% to $226,254 for the average prices and, for the median, 3% to $189,950. The prices also showed a healthy increase from August 2014 and were the highest August prices since 2006 for the median and 2008 for the average. However, both median and average prices were below June.
During August, three homes in metro Albuquerque sold for $1 million or more. My guess is that these three pulled up the average price by $2,250.
My favorite rough metric relates closed sales in one month to pending sales the previous month. The theory is that since sales take about 45 days to close, sales close in the month following the appearance on the pending list. During June, 80% of the May pending sales closed. For July the pending sales percentage was a very high 85% with 82% in August.
If the seasonal pattern appears, sales will drop again in September. During 2014, August sales of detached homes were 822 followed by September with 703 sales.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Spaceport Called Great "New Place to See"

The cover story in the September issue of the Smithsonian magazine is "The 25 Greatest New Places to See." Spaceport America is on the list. Lest one think that Smithsonian has a thing about interesting large and really isolated buildings, the short accompanying article is about Virgin Galactic, which plans, someday, suborbital flights from the Spaceport. Find the article somewhere at
Meanwhile, in the much shorter term,filming of a movie, "The Space Between Us," begins September 16 at the Spaceport and then moves to Albuquerque and Santa Fe through early November. The schedule reflects the film business project mode.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Abq, Farm. Grow in July; SF, LC Do Not

Albuquerque and Farmington accounted for 9,200 of the 9,600 wages jobs added in New Mexico between July 201 and July 2015. The report comes in the new issue of the Labor Market Review, released late Friday afternoon by the Department of Workforce Solutions. The division was 1,400 new Farmington jobs and 7,800 in Albuquerque.
Las Cruces and Santa Fe again went the other way. Las Cruces lost 300 wage jobs for the period. Santa Fe dropped 400.
New Mexico’s 1.2% job gain beat a neighboring state for the first time in about forever. Oklahoma, which has a short border with our northeast corner showed 0.8% job growth for the period.
For the June to July month, wage jobs statewide and not seasonally adjusted dropped by 4,100, mainly due to school getting out.
With 2,600 new jobs year-over-year, education and health services (i.e., Medicaid) wasn’t even Albuquerque’s big gainer. That honor went to professional and business services wth 2,800 more jobs. Leisure and hospitality added 1,400 jobs.
The private sector provided 1,300 of Farmington’s 1,400 new jobs. No further detail is provided for Farmington.
Education and health services added 700 jobs in Santa Fe for the year. Professional and business services added 100. The losers were leisure and hospitality, construction, finance and other services.
In Las Cruces, education and health services added 500 jobs with 300 each in retail and transportation, both due to Santa Teresa, perhaps. Professional and business services, construction and government lost.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Change Your Perspective

Yesterday the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled a new “brand campaign” with the tagline “change your perspective” and promotional approaches we over-65 types hadn’t seen before. Along the way ACVB and its agency, McKee Wallwork & Co., remembered a truism about websites—that the key word, “Albuquerque” in this case, ought to be in the name of the site, which they almost accomplished. The new site is “”
The logic is explained n a paragraph from ACVB’s backgrounder. “The campaign hits the sweet spot at the intersection of what travelers want from a vacation destination and what Albuquerque offers so well. The key insight: people travel not only because they want to see different things, but because they want to see things differently; they seek a change in perspective.”
Listening to the detail of the research behind the campaign, the thought dawned that we do indeed need to change our perspective about almost everything in Albuquerque and in New Mexico.
An ultra-establishment Albuquerque civic leader who attended the presentation agrees. Doing little that might endanger election to another post unites the approach of Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Governor Susana Martinez, this man said.
Offered highways as a perception change topic, Mr. Establishment said that dogmatically opposing raising the gas tax was ridiculous. When I mentioned toll roads, he said he didn’t understand why toll roads are not considered here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rep. Lujan Cops Out of Leading Animas Mine Spill Accountability

Just after 6:00 PM this evening, that is, just a few minutes ago, the KOB TV 6 PM news had reporter Chris Ramirez asking U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan if he was going to lead the seeking of accountability from the EPA for the Animas River toxic mine waste spill. Lujan copped out. He told Ramirez, as I heard it, that there has to be accountability. But he did not say he would lead that effort.
Hey, Ben Ray, I would have thought that leading the effort would be your job. Further, leading the effort and standing up for the people you represent might well have brought all sorts of political glory.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monthly Sales Over 1,000 for First Time Since 2007

During July metro Albuquerque sales of single family detached homes rose a little from June, about what happened a year ago. The difference is that the 1,157 sales during July were 23% higher than during July 2014, according to the monthly sales report released today by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors (GAAR).
A quick glance at the history says that June 2007 was the last time monthly single closed sales cracked 1,000 units.
The July closed sales accounted for 85% of the 1,188 sales pending during June, a high figure. In July, pending sales dropped to 1,157 units, suggesting that closed sales may drop during August. July’s pending sales were 17.3% more than July 2014, likely leaving room for year-over-year sales continuing ahead of 2014.
Homes sold during July were on the market an average of 56 days, three days more than June, but a day quicker than the 60 recorded for July 2014.
Prices were lower, though, both from June and from July 2014. The median price, $185,000, dropped about 2.5% from $190,788 in June and $190,000 in July 2014. The average price dropped eight percent from $230,750 in July 2014 to $212,345 last month and from $226,337 in June.
Condo/townhouse sales run around ten percent of detached home sales. That rough ratio held during July 107 closed sales. The difference was the 42% improvement from 75 sales in July 2014.
Since December 2014, metro Albuquerque has reported less than a 5.5-month supply of homes for sale. “An average market is traditionally a six-month supply,” GAAR says.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Abq Jobs Up 2.2%, SF, LC Down

Average weekly manufacturing sector wages dropped from almost $50/week from June 2014 to June 2015, the Department of Workforce Solutions reported n the Labor Market Review newsletter released Tuesday. Sector average wages were $726.68 in June 2014 and $678.12 a year later. The drop was due to lowers wages and fewer hours worked.
Not that manufacturing is a big deal in the state with about three percent of wage jobs. But it is an important part of the basic employment group, sectors that ship their products from the state and are paid with money originating from outside the state.
But even this claim is less than meets the eye. Manufacturing includes printing and publishing, nearly all of which is sold within the state.
During the year from June 2014 to June 2015, the wage job total, seasonally adjusted, grew by 10,900, a measly 1.3 percent increase, from 816,400 to 827,300.
Even this increase, though welcome, is something of a charade, at least with regards to building a solid economy and increasing the wealth of New Mexicans. That’s because about two-thirds of the increase, or 6,500 jobs, came in the education and health services sector.
I finally got around to asking a wizard friend, a labor economist, what was happening. The reply was, “Healthcare has been strong for quite some time both due to Medicaid and Affordable Healthcare Act. Also, when one looks at the (more detailed) data most of the growth is in Ambulatory Health Care Services, and Social Assistance with just marginal increases in Hospitals and Nursing and Residential Care Facilities.”
In other words, government action explains much of the increase. Not good.
Metro area performance remains mixed.
Albuquerque added 8,300 wage jobs, not seasonally adjusted, a decent enough 2.2 percent increase, from June 2014 to June 2015. But that was two-thirds of the state’s 12,700 job increase, again not seasonally adjusted.
Professional and business services led Albuquerque with 3,600 new jobs, 90 percent of the sectors increase statewide over the June to June year. Education and health care added 2,700 jobs in Albuquerque, a third of the 7,700-job increase statewide.
For Farmington, little detail is available other than the grand totals. Well, maybe not grand, but pretty good. The 1,100 new wage jobs represented 2.2 percent growth rate.
Las Cruces and Santa Fe both lost jobs during the year. Las Cruces was down 400 jobs, Santa Fe dropped 100.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Horse Show Off to OKC

On the plane June 18 from Minneapolis to Albuquerque, we happened to sit next to a woman coming to judge the Youth National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show being held in Albuquerque this week. The show is at Tingley Coliseum at Expo New Mexico, aka the state fairgrounds.
The show goes to Oklahoma City next year and will not return to Albuquerque, at least not anytime soon, our seat-mate indicated.
Tingley might best (and most politely) be called a big old barn. It is inadequate in all respects, she said, for the 800 horses (I think she said 800.)
That OKC got aggressive explains the change. We did not. She appeared to have no special affection for Albuquerque or Oklahoma City. This was business.
According to a July 16 Albuquerque Journal story, “A key factor in selecting Oklahoma City over Albuquerque was its infusion of $100 million in improvements to Oklahoma City’s State Fair Park, the venue that will host the youth Arabian show from 2016 through at least 2018, Glenn Petty, executive vice president for AHA, told the Journal in March.”
I doubt that the fairgrounds rise (or sink) to the level of the state’s deep and structural troubles. But the situation does raise the priority question. Do we care? Not so much, apparently.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jobs Up 1.6% in June

Nothing statistically significant happened to the overall New Mexico job picture between June 2104 and June 2015, nor between May 2015 and June 2015, said the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics today in its monthly jobs release. The BLS phrase actually was that the biggest bunch of states were “not appreciably different” from either June 2014 or May 2015.
The exception was our unemployment rate, “significantly different” at 6.4% for June from the 5.3% national rate.
Nonagricultural wages jobs were 825,600 in June, down 6,600 from May but up 12,600 from June 2014, a 1.6% increase.
Education and health services remained the star with a 7,700 year-over-year job gain, or 6.2%. As noted before, these increases don’t make sense. Maybe they are Medicaid. Or Obamacare? Get out your salt shaker, the one with the big grains.
Next comes the professional and business services with 4,000 presumably non-funky new wage jobs over the year, a 4% gain.
Leisure and hospitality follows with 2,900 new wage jobs from June 2014 to June 2015. A few weeks ago the tourism department releases its latest market study and claimed a very good year for tourism.
Other services lost 2,400 jobs for the year, followed by construction, down 1,400.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Home Sales Up 23% from June 2014

In June monthly sales of metro Albuquerque single family detached homes continued above the comparable month of 2014. The metro saw sales close on 924 homes during June, 23% over June 2014 and a nice 8% increase from May. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the June sales report late Friday.
Pending sales, the harbinger of sales closing the next month, jumped 26.5% from June 2014. However, pending sales dropped 46 units from May. Pending in June 2014 were down 56 from May 2014.
The homes that closed during June spent relatively little time on the market, an average of 56 days. The inventory of homes available for sale has been below 2014 for all of 2015.
The median price for detached homes closed during June was $190,788, up 6% from May 2015 and from June 2014 and the highest since 2012.
The average price was $226,337, the highest since $230,750 in July 2014. The average
below the comparable month of 2014 during both April and May. However, for June the average price increased 6% from June 2014. June’s average was up 3.6% from May and 7% from April.
The increase in average price came without help from million dollar homes. None closed during June. There were 48 homes sold during June in the two prime groups from $500,000 to $999,000, nearly double the 25 homes in those two groups sold during 2014.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Balloon Puzzle in Minnesota

In one of the waiting rooms at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, there are several jigsaw puzzles to help people pass the waiting time. This morning a young woman was working on one depicting the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. She said attending the fiesta was on her list of life things to do, "bucket list," I think she said.
Msyo in Rochester attracts an international crowd. As one measure, burkas are popular among the women. SO the Balloon fiesta message, however it got there, hits an international audience.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Violence in NM

We are number nine, says Alaska is no. 1 with 2013 firearm death rate of 19.6 per 100,000.The report was done by, which produces lots of lists.

"New Mexico
"2013 firearm death rate: 15.4 per 100,000
"Total firearm deaths 2004-2013: 2,983 (19th lowest)
"Violent crime rate: 613.0 (2nd highest)
"Permit required to buy handgun: No
"Like most states across the country, the largest proportion of gun-related deaths in New Mexico was attributable to suicide. The age-adjusted firearm suicide rate of 10.3 per 100,000 was the ninth highest rate in the country. New Mexico also had the highest death rate by legal intervention — deaths caused by police or other law-enforcement officials — in the country. In general, New Mexico residents were exposed to a large number of crimes. The state reported 613 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the second highest rate in the country. Low education levels and widespread poverty may partly explain the high gun violence and deaths. Nearly 22% of New Mexico’s population lived in poverty, substantially higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%. Additionally, only 84.3% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the sixth lowest rate in the country."

Oklahoma is 8th. The other three four-corners stated don't make the top ten.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Political Correctness at the Folk Art Museum

A couple of minor bones to pick with “The Red That Colored The World,” the excellent current exhibition, through September 6, at the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe. The red in this case came from the cochineal, a small bug that “lives, breeds and feeds on the pad of prickly pear cactus.” The cochineal was grown in some sort of organized manner and harvested well before the Spanish came. Dried and crushed, it is used in painting and to color cloth. Bone one is with the slight information provided about how the Indians grew the bug. After all, they were in a very low tech environment.
Bones two and three go to political correctness.
A change in the area where the cochineal is found is mentioned and called probably due to climate change (it might have been “possibly). Well, maybe, or maybe not. No proof is offered. Just the gratuitous assertion.
Then a garment of Kit Carson’s is one of the objects in the exhibition. Carson is called “controversial.” The designation, while accurate, I think, has nothing to do with the validity of the Carson object appearing. Nor is it explained. Again, just a gratuitous assertion, a way of slipping in the claim that Carson was a bad guy. It should have been omitted.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Metro Job Picture Mixed for May

The Farmington recovery rolled on during May with 1,500 new wage jobs from May 2014 to May 2015, a 2.9% increase, according to the details of May job growth released yesterday by the Economic Research and Analysis Bureau of the Department of Workforce Solutions. Metro Albuquerque claimed a decent year-over-year performance as well with a 5,100 job, or 1.3% increase.
The metro job picture remained decidedly mixed with year-over-year losses of 600 jobs, 0.8%, in Las Cruces and, in Santa Fe, a drop of 800 jobs, 1.3%.
Farmington and Albuquerque provided 6,600 of the 8,200 new wage jobs statewide during the period, 1% growth.
In Albuquerque, as with the state, the growth came in professional and business services, +2,300; education and heath services, +1,800; and leisure and hospitality, +1,900. Government in Albuquerque, dropped 100 jobs during the May-to-May year. Albuquerque’s professional and business services sector has report year-over-year gains of more than 2,000 jobs for four months.
The Las Cruces losses were in leisure and hospitality, -300; professional and business services, -500; and manufacturing, down 200.
Construction in Santa Fe lost 500 jobs with another 300 gone in leisure and hospitality.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Less Than Meets the Eye to Job Growth

Those nice 1.5% year-over-year wage job increases are gone, One hopes it is only for the monthly moment. That’s because the sectors growing the fastest bring less to the basic economy that is presumed.
The job growth in May was one percent over May 2014 with 8,200 new jobs statewide, a drop from 1.5% the past couple of months.
The other worrisome point in this corner is that the fastest growing job sector is education and health services. The two sectors are home to what you would expect. Education includes private schools, trade school and automobile driving schools. Health services is doctors, hospitals and child care.
Education and health services produced 5,000 new jobs, year over year, 61% of those 8,200 jobs statewide.
Leisure and hospital, home to much of our tourism, added 1,900 jobs from May 2014 to May 2015. The sector also included the restaurants serving a local customer base, and, therefore depending on other basic industries. The sector brings less than meets the eye to consideration of true economic health.
As does the professional and business services sector which, yes, has the consulting engineers but also has lawyers. The sector’s 1,300 new jobs, year over year, did nudge the job total back past 100,000.
Manufacturing lost 100 jobs over the year while mining showed no change. These two sectors, though small, are the core of the wealth producing economy.
In rural news, the Mora County unemployment rate dropped to 9%, or 190 people, leaving Luna County the only county with unemployment over 10%. Luna’s unemployment rate is 18.1%, or 1,873 people.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Abq Homes Sales Continue to Increase

Closed sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque hit 903 units in May, up 13% over May 2014 and an increase of 68%, or 366 units from the winter low in January of 537 closed sales. But it’s hardly been a steady path. The performance for sales closed was the highest since 939 sales closed in July 2013.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the May sales report today. The monthly increases in sales closed during 2015 are: Jan-Feb 17; Feb-March 273; March-April 17; April-May 59.
Pending sales activity suggests further increases in closings. During May pending sales were 1,234 homes, up 54, or five percent from April. Those May pending sales represented a 24% increase from May 2014.
During May an average of 29.1 homes sold each day, an increase of one from April. The homes sold in an average of 62 days, the quickest sales of 2015 and the quickest since July 2014 when the average sales period of 62 days.
All this activity did not bring higher prices to sellers, as compared to 2014. From April, though, prices increased. The average sales price, $218,228, dropped around $5,000 from May 2014, a 2.2% decline. The average price was up $4,200 or four percent from April. The median price, $181,000 increased all of $1,000 from May 2014. The increase was $4,200 or two percent from April. Closing of the sale of three $1 million (plus) homes during May helped the average price.
May provided the highest median price since 2009, and, except for drop from May of 2014, the highest average price since 2009.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Second in Long Term Unemployed

Economic recovery in New Mexico, such as it is, is uneven, according to figures released yesterday from the Department of Workforce Solutions.
Farmington (+2,200 wage jobs, +4.3%) and Albuquerque (+7,000 jobs, +1.9%) were the winners in the year from April 2014 to April 2015. Santa Fe lost 200 jobs, or -0.7%, for year. Las Cruces was down 200, or -0.3%. The jobs figures are not seasonally adjusted.
As reported previously, the state added 12,600 jobs, year over year. Albuquerque and Farmington accounted for 73% of the new jobs.
Albuquerque’s leading employment sectors were leisure and hospitality and professional and business services, both with 2,000 new jobs. Education and health services followed with 1,700 new jobs. Government added 800 new Albuquerque jobs, split among federal, 100; state, 400; and local 300.
Of the Farmington jobs, 1,900 were in the private sector. DWS does not provide additional Farmington detail.
Education and health services added the most jobs in Las Cruces (+500) and Santa Fe (+300).
In the new issue of its Labor Market Review newsletter, DWS provided a commendable look at the state’s long-term unemployed. The term refers to those unemployed people without a job for 27 weeks or more. We were second nationally with 44.9% long term unemployed in 2014, after only Washington, D.C.
To be counted as unemployed, one must be seeking a job. The long term unemployed figure leaves out those who have dropped from the labor force. We are in the bottom five (or so) in labor force participation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

1.5% Job Growth Continues

During April, the New Mexico economy stuck with the 1.5% year-over-year wage job growth rate that appeared in March. April brought 12,600 new jobs over April 2014.
The curious part is that 37%, or 4,900, of the new jobs are in the education and health services sector. The Department of Workforce Solutions did not explain this situation in today’s news release. But this sector depends on others for its business, so something unusual is happening. Medicaid?
Growth came to sectors that are part of the base economy grew including Leisure and hospitality, 2,700; Professional and business services, 1,900; information, 300; manufacturing, 200; and mining, 300. The latter sector’s growth is the slowest since April 2010, the DWS release said, reflecting the slowing in oil deveopment.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Highway Money Short; Cutting Spending Not Considered

The April 30 Albuquerque Journal Up Front column was an interesting exercise for who responded and what was said and not said. The Journal's editorial page editor Dan Herrera asked civic leaders (by his definition) "to name something Albuquerque does right." No respondent represented a business. Only one mentioned anything close to earning a living. That was the small construction firms comment from the Abq Academy headmaster who gets lots of tuition money from private sector people and Labs types doing science. Science wasn’t mentioned. The first item listed was the Sandia Mountains, that by Cathy Winograd.

So we are aesthetic without worries about economics.

May 1 saw the Journal run a long story by Olivier Uyttebrouck looking at paying for New Mexico's highways. The story mentioned the right things, so far as it went. It said the amount of money is flat, a big piece is used to repay borrowing and one of the pressures comes from more efficient autos using less gas.

Toll roads, which might be a source of money, were not mentioned. More important was the continued (continued by everyone who seems to consider the highway finance issue) ignoring of considering how we spend our money and can we spend less. Not to belabor the obvious—not much—but any organization that lacks income need to consider spending less.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Job Growth is 1.6% in March

New Mexico seems to have settled in on a year-over-year wage job growth rate of 1.5% plus. For the March 2014 to March 2015 year, it was 1.6%, or 13,000 jobs statewide, according to figures released today by the Department of Workforce Services and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
By percentage, business and professional led the growth at 3.8% (3,700 jobs), followed by leisure and hospitality, 3.6% (3,200 jobs), and education and health services, 3.5% (4,400 jobs).
Growth is slower in the oil counties of Lea and Eddy, but the job growth continues.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The New Hampshire Presidential Campaign

New Hampshire correspondent Kathy Morgan has called attention a continuing feature at WMUR TV in Manchester, New Hampshire. The feature is a series of conversations with actual and potential presidential candidates. A few days ago it was Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The format is a half hour in two segments, one an interview by the anchor, the other questions from the audience. A “web feature” follows. Go to
There is enough time and the format is sufficiently relaxed to get acquainted with the individual.
Also, one finds the newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader, at
It seems that for the 2016 race, technology will bring us in the fly-over hinterland a chance to make a more intelligent choice.
If you see a worthy candidate on WMUR,options for active support would seem to be sending money and/or calling the respective New Mexico party headquarters to find the NM contact.
Our correspondent is ably assisted by Christopher Phelps Johnson, age five months, one day, as of this writing.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Abq Homes Sale Up 19% from March 2014

More homes sold in metro Albuquerque for more money than in months and months, according to the March sales report released today by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
March closed sales of 827 single family detached homes were 49%, or 273 homes, more than February (March does have three more selling days than February) and 19% more than March 2014. The March sales were the highest since the sale of 857 homes closed during August 2013.
During March the number of pending sales jumped 20% from February to 1,102 and showed a 16% increase over February 2014. February pending sales also increased 16% over the previous year. Of the 921 pending sales during February, 90% turned into closed sales during March.
Average prices increased 5.5% during March to $210,069, pushed along by the sale closing for four homes in the $1 million-plus category. Sales increased in 10 of the 12 price groups about the $100,000 threshold. Sales were the same as March at 21 homes in the $500,000 - $749,000 group and dropped one—from three to two—in the $750,000 to $999,000 group.
The median price increased $6,000, or 4%, to $175,000 during March. The $175,000 median price is the highest March median since 2010.
The absorption rate has been below 5.5 months since December, indicating a better than average market. The supply-demand ration has dropped by half to 3.33 since December, meaning a tightening of supply relative to demand.

Friday, April 3, 2015

State Job Improvement Continues

The statistically re-benchmarked performance of the New Mexico economy continues, according to the new Labor Market Review newsletter released today, April 3, by the Department of Workforce Solutions.
The best news is in Albuquerque and Farmington. For the year between February 2014 and February 2015, 15,900 new wage jobs appeared on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The number of wage jobs increased 10,400 between January and February.
Albuquerque led the metro pack with 6,700 jobs, year over year. That was a net of 7,100 private sector jobs and a loss 400 government jobs with state government gains of 400 offsetting local government losing 700 jobs.
Farmington was the other big metro winner with 2,800 new wage jobs over the year, 2,500 of them in the private sectors.
Santa Fe didn’t badly with 1,100 new jobs even with the loss of 400 construction jobs.
Nothing much happened in Las Cruces during the year. The metro lost 200 jobs, split between the private guys and government.
Statewide and in Albuquerque the sectors with the biggest job growth were professional and business services, education and health services and leisure and hospitality. In Albuquerque, the three sectors added 6,100 jobs, year over year. Statewide the three added 10,400 jobs.
All these figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Job Growth “Statistically Significant”

Those 10,200 new jobs mentioned yesterday as appearing between January 2014 and January 2015 were not seasonally adjusted. I forgot to mention that. I also forgot to say that between December and January, the seasonally unadjusted figures show a loss of 16,500 jobs. That’s a lot. Not explanation from DWS.
In its release yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed New Mexico’s 12,900 seasonally adjusted new jobs, year over year, as being statistically significant, that means the jobs are real, maybe. The seasonally adjusted change between December and January was an increase of 1,500, a shift of 18,000 from the unadjusted figure, or, quite an adjustment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Statistical Shuffle Improves Job Picture

Everything that was said about job performance and non-performance in New Mexico was wrong. Or at least all that stuff about months and months of job losses is out of date now. That’s because the federal Bureau of Labors Statistics and New Mexico’s Department of Workforce Solutions changes the rules once each year.
DWS in its March 17 release “explained” the changes this way. “Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics realigns the sample-based estimates of the CES survey to incorporate universe counts of employment—a process known as benchmarking.”
As an example of the changes, readers may remember the year over year changes in the finance sector of well over 1,000 jobs. When this “growth” was reported each month, the report here came with skeptical note. The problem, as I see it, is that the sector is too small to support such growth without something radical happening such as a new and large employer. For sure, banks, the largest employer in finance, aren’t adding people except to do Dodd-Frank required compliance.
Guess what, guys, with the bench newly marked, as it were, the finance sector showed a gain of 300 jobs, or less than one percent, between January 2014 and January 2015.
The new numbers show professional and business services, considered a key proxy for national laboratory activity, showed 1,700 new jobs, year over year. Education and health services led the sector pack with 4,700 new jobs, or 3.7%, which was about 39% an (unlikely to me) of the year’s total job gain of 10,200 jobs.
Government dropped 1,200 jobs, 500 from the feds and 600 from local government. State government, buoyed by 1,100 new education jobs (in universities), lost just 100.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Clinton Email Logistics Are Confusing

I do not understand the logistics of the emails. Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State for approximately 1,461 days (the years 2010, 2011, 2012 plus ten months of 2009 and two months of 2013). The 31,830 private emails averaged 21.8/day, plus nearly that many for business. Call it 40 total/day. Assume Mrs. Clinton sleeps four hours/day, leaving 20 hours for everything else including emails (at an average of two emails/hour all day every day) and meetings with foreign ministers. Some of the business emails would have been complicated and would have required some thought and some time—multiple drafts and staff debate—in creating the reply. To be sure, threads with multiple emails would account for some of the total, but how many? I presume that Mrs. Clinton was not the person at the keyboard entering the reply. (Does she type?)
From my perch in the wilds of New Mexico, it appears that she had to have some help in managing this process. How did that work? What was the decision process with regard to eliminating the personal emails? Highlight all and hit delete?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Abq Homes Sales Up 17 During February.

Pending sales provided the only news for February sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque. February saw 921 homes move into the pending sales category, a 66 unit, or 8% increase from January. The performance beat February 2014 by 128 units or 16%.
The only other February happening was the sale of homes closing at a 2.5 home/day faster pace than during January. February sales averaged 19.8 homes/day as compared to January’s 17.3 homes/day. This daily activity meant that 554 homes closed during February, which was three days shorter than January, beat January by 17 homes or 3%.
The February 2015 homes closed performance of 554 homes edged January by four homes or 0.73%.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the February sales report today.
No only did more homes sell each day during February, they sold faster. Homes sold during January were on the market an average of 81 days. During February, homes took an average of 71 days to sell.
Nothing much happened to home prices during February.
The little that happened to prices during February happened to average prices which dropped 2.1% from January to $199,196. This was up $713 from February 2014. Median prices were $195,000, the same and February 2014 and down $500 from January 2015.
During January there were 855 sales pending. Almost two-thirds (65%) turned into closed sales during February. Some months show up to 89% of pending sales turning into closed sales.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Energy:The Dallas Fed View

From the Beige Book of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Released March 4. See

"Demand for oilfield services fell sharply in the Eleventh District. Declines were concentrated in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford regions, and contacts reported a pullback in both horizontal and traditional vertical drilling. Outlooks remain pessimistic and uncertain, with firms expecting a roughly 30 percent decline in capital expenditures this year."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Nusenda Doesn’t Send(a) Me

Effective Monday (2/9) or Tuesday (2/10), Nusenda is the new name for New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union. NMEFCU has been my “bank” for 18 years. A long time ago I went through a financial institution name change. It was mostly done right.
What the hell is Nusenda? The Albuquerque Journal story this morning said the credit union used a consultant. Probably it was the same guy who invented Bank 34 in Alamogordo.
My name change experience was the move of Albuquerque National Bank and ten others (I think it was ten) into being Sunwest Bank. As an ANB / Sunwest employee, I handled the public relations on the name change. Pre-internet, the logistics of getting the information around the state were complex. But we got it done.
While “sunwest” really doesn’t mean anything, it sounds like it does. These are words people know. Nusenda is, well, nusenda.
The Sunwest change took effect on a Monday. It was announced over the weekend by what was then the state’s largest single advertising campaign. By Monday morning customer consciousness of Albuquerque National Bank of obliterated.
Nusenda just appeared. We first heard of it when my wife drove by the Uptown office on Tuesday (2/10). That may hav been the effective day. Why a day in the middle of the week? There may have been an email, but it went to our spam file. We have seen no advertising. Today’s Journal story reported the change and had people making fun of the change. Translated, NMEFCU let others control the story. That’s just stupid.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

January Real Estate Follows 2014 Pattern

For the metro Albuquerque real estate market, 2015 has started just like 2014.
The 537 sales of single family homes closed during January were down 119 units, or 18%, from December and essentially the same as the 539 sales closed during January 2014. The 855 homes with a sale pending during January jumped a resounding 32% from December. The January 2014 number of pending sales—769—was up 137 from December 2013.
The difference between the two years suggests a brighter future for 2015 as compared to 2014. That’s because those 855 sales pending during January 2015 showed an 86-unit, or 11.2%, increase from a year ago. Given that closed sales in one month have a rough relationship to sales pending during the previous month, the sales closed this month may well do better than the 550 sales closed during February 2014 which was an 11-unit increase from January.
The January closed sales took a while. They were on the market for an average of days 81 days, ten days more than December and the second longest sales period of the past two years, behind only the 83-day average of February 2014.
During January the median sales price was $169,500 and the average price was $203,468. The January prices were essentially the same as January 2013 and down about four percent from December.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the January sales report yesterday.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Another Reason For Skipping School Elections: Distance to the Polls

To the list of rational reasons for not voting in school board elections, add distance to the polling place. After consulting its collective wisdom, the Chaves County Commission put the one polling place for the Hagerman school district in Roswell. That’s 26 miles away. Hagerman is south and a bit east of Roswell on N.M. 2. The three board candidates were unopposed, so not even the candidates voted. No one else voted either.
The distance problem hadn’t occurred to me. But then my near-UNM polling place is a three-minute drive from my house.
The Hagerman powers-that-be have figured a work-around. The existing board will appoint the three candidates to the vacant positions.
The Albuquerque Journal has noticed the Hagerman situation along with the miniscule turnout in Albuquerque and called for changing the time of school elections. Duh.

Friday, January 30, 2015

State Loses Education Jobs During November

The Department of Workforce Solutions filled in the blanks on the December job report, released in summary Tuesday by DWS and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As reported Tuesday, the state gained 13,500 jobs for the year between December 2013 and December 2014, but lost 1,500 jobs between November and December. (I originally said 1,600 jobs were lost. Sorry.)
Government accounted for all the jobs lost over the month. State government education dropped 1,300. Local government education dropped 400. Overall, government lost 1,700 jobs between November and December, but only 300 for the December to December year.
For the year, only government, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality lost jobs. Education and health services was the big year-over-year gainer with 6,800 more jobs statewide, followed by mining and other services. Finance supposedly added 1,200 jobs, but Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe showed no added jobs in the sector. Metro Albuquerque (+3,400) and Farmington (+800) were the metro job gainers for the year while Las Cruces showed no change and Santa Fe dropped 100. The 4,100 jobs added in the metro areas mean the rural counties have 9,400 new jobs, including, it is reasonable to guess, nearly all those 1,500 new mining jobs. The mining job growth seems likely to change due to falling oil prices. The question is when.
New Mexico tied Rhode Island and Alabama for 23rd place nationally in percentage job growth for the year. Mississippi was the only state to lose jobs over the year with a 100-job decline.
Given that the November to December losses concentrated in government education, maybe one can focus on the private sector gains and be happy. I'm not there yet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jobs Down From November, Up From December 2013

New Mexico added 13,500 wage jobs in the year from December 2013 to December 2014. Not quite the 14,700 jobs that appeared in the year ending in November, but not at all bad considering. The percentage growth was 1.7%.
The Department of Workforce Solutions, which released the figures today, points out that, “Between April and November 2014, job growth improved substantially (from -0.6 percent to 1.8 percent).” The real consideration goes back to the rule that not a trend does one data point make.
Give me an increase for January that remains in the vicinity of the 1.7% year over year growth and perhaps a victory proclamation can be issued. Until then…
Still, the news is not all jolly. New Mexico managed the second largest month over month job decline in December with 1,600 fewer jobs. Our percentage job loss in December (-0.2%) also tied for second with Delaware and Minnesota, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released numbers today.
In case you wondered, DWS in its release talked only about the year-over-year happiness and said nothing about the month-over-month losses.
Not only did we lose jobs between November and December, our unemployment rate dropped from 6.4% in November to 6.1% in December. Interesting trick: Fewer jobs, lower unemployment rate.
More later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Abq Homes Sales Up In December, Down For 2014

So much for seasonal behavior in the sales of metro Albuquerque single family detached homes. The presumption is that sales drop through January or February as the weather becomes colder or darker. But no, in December sales were 656 homes, a 55-home or nine percent increase from November’s sales of 601 homes. December sales were one more than December 2013 when 655 homes sold.
The 71 sales of condominiums and townhouses were 14 more than November, a 25% increase.
The December sales closed were 89% of November’s 738 pending sales. Those homes that closed sales were on the market an average of 71 days, up four days or six percent from November.
The average sales price for a detached home was $211,523 during December, down $8,386, or 3.8% from the year ago period. The average price also dropped from November with a $45,376 decline, or two percent.
December’s median sales price, $177,000, was up $2,000 from November but down $8,000 or 4.3% from December 2013.
Closed sales increased over the 2013 period for the third consecutive month while pending have been up, year over year, for four months. These increases follow months of year over year decline.
Counting both detached homes and townhouses and condos, closed sales were 9,254 during 2014, down 293 homes or three percent from 2013. Pending sales, 11,317 homes during 2014, were 1,631 units or 12.6% over 2013.
The Greater Albuquerque Board of Realtors released the December sales report yesterday. See

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Oil, Gas Exploration Cut

Yesterday I got a letter from Universal Land Services, LLC, of Tulsa. Universal had been trying to lease a small mineral interest I may have in Payne County, Oklahoma, which is home to Stillwater and Oklahoma State University. The letter said, in part, "Due to current market conditions, I regret to inform you,the above referenced section is now outside our leasing parameters. I am rescinding the offer to lease."
Putting it another way, Universal's Angelo Pezzulo said, "Too bad, so sad, the world changed, you lose." I'm not worried. I figure oil and gas prices will go back up. The Woodford Shale formation under Payne County, which has been a hot oil play, isn't going anywhere.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Falling Oil Prices to Hit NM

New Mexico will take the fifth ranking hit from falling oil prices, according to a report from

"New Mexico

There’s nothing enchanting about what will happen to New Mexico thanks to falling oil prices: This state, which will get hurt in terms of economic impact (it will cost them $2.19 billion in 2015, according to MoneyRates) and jobs, lands in the No. 5 spot on this list."

The impact will come in Lea and Eddy counties and with state government revenue. Oil and gas have spent a bunch of years saving New Mexico from itself. Maybe this will get us to grow up. Ummmm, not likely. We can hope, though.