Monday, November 20, 2017

Abq Trash Official Wrong About Trash Bin Placement, Trash Bin Placement Rules Are Fantasy

Via D’Val Westphal, the Albuquerque Journal’s road and traffic columnist, we hear from Diane Winkler, marketing manager / public information for the Albuquerque Solid Waste Department, that “the city ordnance for Solid Waste does require that trash and recycle bins be placed back on a resident’s property 24 hours after service pick up. In addition, the trash and recycling bins cannot be put out on the curb more than 12 hours prior to service pick up.”
The one requirement is generous. It allows bins to be left out over night.
The requirement about taking out the bins is one of those bureaucratic unenforceable fantasies standing against reality. On my block a good many of the bins are placed in the street the night before pickup. This makes sense. People have jobs and children. Putting out the trash bin is about a ten minute chore that could blow a hole in tightly scripted morning tasks.
In any case, how would the city enforce the rule—have trash bin cops cruise neighborhoods? Burglars, not to mention murderers, rank much higher on the law enforcement list.
Ms Winkler talks about putting the trash bins on the curb. This is wrong. Look around a while on the city’s website and you will find, “Place your cart in the gutter near your driveway with the wheels against the curb by 7 am on your scheduled pick-up day. Place your container 5 ft away from all obstructions.
The website lists a hierarchy of violation actions starting with “1st violation will be documented.”
I keep my trash bins in the yard. They are nearer to the door and I don’t have to look at them, a good thing since the bins are really ugly.

Friday, November 17, 2017

NM Adds 13,200 Jobs

Statistical significance appeared in the performance of the New Mexico economy during October, all of it in a good way.
Employment grew by 13,200 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis between October 2016 and October 2017. That’s 1.6% growth, fairly amazing all in all. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions released summary job statistics earlier this afternoon. The BLS makes the judgments about significance.
Also getting the significance blessing was the year-over-year unemployment rate drop from 6.8% to 6.1%. The unemployment rate remains two points above the national 4.1% unemployment, which also is a significant difference. Our unemployment rate remains third nationally behind Alaska (7.2%) and the District of Columbia (6.6%).
The gain was 13,100 wage jobs on a not seasonally adjusted basis. That split among 13,900 new private sector jobs and loss of 800 government jobs.
The federal government added 200 jobs over the year. The state netted a 200-job loss including 300 fewer in education. Local government dropped 800 jobs including 100 in education.
The sector gainers were led by leisure and hospitality (tourism), up 4,000 jobs, professional and business services, up 3,500 jobs, and construction, presumably aided by the Facebook project outside Los Lunas and up 2,100 jobs.
Education added 1,400 jobs. Retail trade, transportation and finance each gained 1,100 jobs over the year.
Mining continued the losses, down 800 jobs over the year.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Oct. Homes Sales Up 16% From Year Ago

The sale of 970 single-family detached homes closed in metro Albuquerque during October. The performance was a 31-unit, or 3.1%, drop from September. October sales increased 134 units, or 16%, from October 2016.
The homes took an average of 46 days to sell, eight days, or 14.8%, faster than the year-ago period.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the September sales report last Friday, November 10.
Townhouses and condominiums sold even faster. The average sales period was 43 days. October saw the sale closed on 177 homes, the second highest sales month of 2017 and 27% more than October 2016.
Home prices were higher during October than a year ago, as might be expected during a time of increasing sales. Pries have fairly stable for about six months.
The median sales price was $199,450, a 5.5%, or $10,450 increase during the year. The median sales price has been around $200,000 since May.
For the average price, it was $237,286 during October, a one-year increase of nearly $20,000, or 8.7%. Excepting a one time jump to $242,000 in May, the average has been about $236,000.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Amazon Cross Border Proposal Gets Attention

Amazon received 238 proposals for the location of its new headquarters. One was in two countries, Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and San Jeronimo, and San Jose del Sol, in Chihuahua, Mexico. The communities together are the, “Los Santos Binational Community.”
It consists of a proposed 100-acre site in each country, a special-use port of entry, and a unique hexagonal design, according to the November 2 NM Partnership Border Region Business Update newsletter.
The Seattle Times, MSN, CNN Money, Business Insider, the Huffington Post/Mexico and USA Today have covered the proposal.
The website is www.HQ2Countries.com.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Supply and Demand in San Antonio

The village of San Antonio, nine miles south of Socorro, has attractions. It is the gateway to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and offers a couple of famous burger places—the Owl Café and the Buckhorn. It also has the San Antonio Crane Family Restaurant.
We found the Crane October 29, a Sunday. The big guys were closed. The Crane is off San Antonio’s beaten track, an accomplishment of some distinction as San Antonio is little more than the beaten track. Thank you Internet.
Judging from the greetings exchanged among our fellow diners around 1 PM the 29th, the Crane is very local. Visitors just don’t see it or don’t search the Internet.
The inside capacity is around 15, outside, maybe 30. The food is very good, the chile, hot. Lunch for the two of us was $23.00.
On the Sunday, there was demand and the Crane had the only supply.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Albuquerque Dominates Jobs Gains

The October issue of the Labor Market Review, the newsletter from the Department of Workforce Solutions, finally appeared at 5:15 PM. (Yes, I was waiting.)
Metro Albuquerque continued to dominate job production with 4,700, or 69%, of the state’s 6,800 new wage jobs between September 2016 and September 2017. For the August-to-August year, the state added 8,600 jobs with 4,200 in Albuquerque.
For the September year, the other three metro areas did a little better with 100 net new jobs. Last month it was zero new jobs.
The percentage growth was 1.2%, September to September, for Albuquerque.
The unemployment rate, as reported last week, was 6.2% in September, a statistically significant drop from 6.8% in September 2017. What didn’t drop, however, was our unemployment rate’s position among the states. We are still third, behind Washington, D.C., at 6.5% and Alaska at 7.2%. The unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted. The wage job numbers that follow are not.
For the month from August to September, the private sector dropped 4,600 jobs statewide while government added 6,600 (2,800 for the state and 4,000 for local government). The gains were nearly all in education. For the year, the picture flipped with 10,200 more private sector jobs and 3,400 fewer government jobs. Local government lost 500 non-education jobs; the state lost 1,800.

Friday, October 20, 2017

NM Adds 6,800 jobs. Unemployment Drop “Significant.”

New Mexico continues to add a few jobs. Not that 6,800 jobs, the number of new wage jobs appearing between September 2016 and September 2017, are “few.” But on the percentage scale of things, 0.8% growth isn’t much.
The Department of Workforce Solutions released the September job summary today.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces the job numbers, did consider our year-over-year unemployment rate change “statistically significant.” The rate dropped from 6.8% in September 2016 to 6.2% in September 2017. However, our job gain was not significant.
The unemployment rate dropped because employment went up a lot more than the labor force grew. The employment growth, however slight, is good. But the economy isn’t growing enough to draw many people back into the labor force.
The new job production started in construction which rocked with a 7% increase, or 3,000 jobs. Professional and business services added 1,900, followed by leisure and hospitality (tourism) with 1,700. Educational services added 1,500 jobs for the year. Retail contributed 1,400.
The only big loss for the month came from government. State government dropped 2,400 with 600 gone in education. Local government lost 1,100 including 600 in education.
Mining and manufacturing continued to lose, but the numbers were small, 400 in mining and 300 in manufacturing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Amazon's Second HQ Cities Are Not Abq

In an analysis posted September 8 at marketwatch.com, four screens were applied. The marketwatch finalists are Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Bridgeport, Denver, New York, Provo, Raleigh, Tampa and Washington.
Criterion number one was having one million people in the metro. Albuquerque doesn't, though if you throw in Santa Fe, the combo passes a million.Then there is being business friendly. Marketwatch used a list from wsj.com. It figured 50th was a good place for the cutoff. Albuquerque ranked 92.
The next criteria was “urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.” The marktwatch screens came from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. They were "either the largest percentage of professional, management and scientific jobs, or the largest percentage of workers in management, business, science and arts."
According to today's Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico "officials say nearly limitless sunshine, hazard free weather and a diverse population should make the state's competitive." Right. Sure.
Those state "officials" are blowing smoke.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

After A Year's Delay For Software, City of Albuquerque Bills Defunct Business

In a last bureaucratic paroxysm the administration of Albuquerque Mayor Richard Richard Berry dug deeply into the archives and found my micro corporation Progress Publishing Inc. The “company,” long since defunct, is “not in good standing” with the state. It’s been years since I renewed the City of Albuquerque business license. The brochure with the bill says, “1. You are receiving instructions with your City of Albuquerque Business Registration Renewal notice. (That’s nice.) A new on-line system is in place, which caused a delay in sending renewal notices therefore; The City of Albuquerque WILL NOT assess the $10 late fee on your registration renewal 2. If you have renewed your Business Registration after September 2016, please disregard this information”
That suggests that it has taken more than a year to get the software running.
In addition to leaving periods off the above copy, making it a never-ending sentence, the instructions failed to offer instructions about what to do if the previously licensed “firm” is out of business.
My choice is to ignore the bill.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Nothing Much Happening in Albuquerque. September Home Sales Up By Nine.

It takes less than 30 days to sell a home or condo sell in Denver, reports the Wall Street Journal today. Now even mentioning the number slips into the Denver Envy mode that is so useless and popular in Albuquerque. My excuse is that the number is one of those interesting tidbits, however irrelevant.
Denver’s circumstances are different from Albuquerque. Denver is booming. In New Mexico, the bad news is that nothing much positive is happening. The good news is that nothing much bad is happening.
In Albuquerque it took an average of 43 days to sell the 997 single family homes that showed a closed sale during September, reports the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors in the September sales report released Wednesday. That was six days faster than during September 2016. A condominium or townhouse took 53 days to sell during September, a three-day increase from September 2016.
Closed sales dropped 95 units, or nine percent, from 1092 in August, a reflection of the seasonal slowing as we head into colder months. Sales were up nine units from 988 in September 2016. Sales peaked in March at 1,030.
It was the same pattern for September’s 985 pending sales, down 195 units, or 17%, from August, but up 128 units, a nice 14.9%, from a year ago.
Prices increased from September 2016. The September median price, $200,000, was up $4,000, or two percent, in a year, but down from $202,825 in August. The average price movement was a $7,070 increase, or 3.1% from September 2016 and a $2,036 decline from $237,532 in August.
Through the first nine months of 2017, the sale of 9,016 single family homes closed in metro Albuquerque, a 6.2% increase from 8,488 in 2016.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mayor Mail Hits Albuquerque for Final Campaign Week

It’s the last week of Albuquerque’s first go round for mayor. (I’m presuming a run-off because there are so many candidates.) The mail deluge has begun. The Monday group had five items, three arguing the sick day ordinance that would lay a bunch of detailed regulations on businesses (and non-profits, I wonder?).
The pro-ordnance item was an 11” x 6” item hanging the virtues of the proposal on the benefit to “domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.” It came from the very left Center for Civic Policy and others.
The other four mailers were all 8.5” x 11”, full color. Two pitched against the sick ordinance. One was from the Albuquerque for a Healthy Economy, the other from Forward Albuquerque which listed as treasurer venerable Albuquerque civic sort Sherman McCorkle.
The other two Monday mailers were from mayor candidates. Republican Dan Lewis pitched his anti-crime message using yellow headlines which by definition are barely readable (who does his graphics?) and attacked liberal Democrats Tim Keller and Brian Colon. The Lewis mailer did not identify him as a Republican. Wayne Johnson identified himself as a “conservative Republican” and attacked Keller, Colon and Lewis as “big spenders.”
The mailers today (Wednesday) were three. Wayne Johnson said, “Dan Lewis gave control of our police to Barack Obama.” The tiny type return address was the only place Johnson’s name appeared. The Dan Lewis item went to four pages (an 11” x 17” sheet) to say, “We can’t afford Brian Colon or Tim Keller as mayor.”
The third item today was a 9” x 6” card from Americans for Prosperity New Mexico attacking the sick leave ordinance. The group is a Koch sponsored organization that has recently re-staffed in New Mexico. The printer was in Los Lunas.
A person brought a pitch from the NMPIRG education fund to our door. PIRG is another lefty group with all the answers for the downtrodden. PIRG’s leave behind piece was a 3.5” x 8.5” full color flyer.
An advantage of the 8.5” x 11” mailed cards is that they are easy to stack on the way to the trash. Mail is a necessary medium, but finding something to stand out from the stack would be a good use of design money.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rio Arriba Leads in Substance Abuse Deaths

From the 2017 Distressed Communities Index, produced by the Economic Innovation Group (eig.org)

“Mental and substance abuse
disorders take their heaviest toll on
distressed counties.
Mortality rates from mental and
substance abuse disorders are 64 percent
higher in distressed counties than in
prosperous ones: 10 deaths per 100,000
people in 2014 in the average prosperous
county compared to 16.5 in the average
distressed one.
The most severe pockets of these
diseases are located in Appalachia
(particularly southern West Virginia
and eastern Kentucky) and on Native
American reservations in the West. In
McDowell and Wyoming Counties, West
Virginia, the mortality rate climbs to
nearly 60 per 100,000 people—that is
four and a half times the national rate
of 13.4. In such corners of Appalachia,
mortality rates from mental and
substance abuse disorders have
increased by more than 1,000 percent
since 1980. In Rio Arriba County, New
Mexico, the mortality rate from these
disorders spikes even further to 73.2
deaths per 100,000 adults.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Abq Mayor Berry on Crime: I didn’t Do it

If the time spent on a topic during a speech measures the priority of the speaker, then outgoing Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, the priority has been homelessness. Berry gave what was billed as his Last State of the City report today to NAIOPNM, the commercial developers group.
NAIOPNM has provided Berry a receptive venue. The developers stood to applaud a number of times during his speech. NAIOPNM meeting at the Marriott in Uptown Albuquerque.
Crime finished second. “I didn’t do it” sums Berry’s explanation of the increased crime on his watch.
Berry skated on the ART project, the more than controversial destroying of miles of mostly Central Ave. for fancy buses. (Through the core of downtown ART jogs to a block north of Central.) ART got perhaps five minutes of soothing words claiming that all will be fine eventually. Berry thanked Central Avenue businesses for hanging in there during ART construction, an amazing statement. Berry further claimed that ART will persuade some families to go from two cars to one because of being able to ride ART to work. Sure. Right.
The crime increase during Berry’s second term comes from two system factors, Berry said. The first is the roughly 50% drop in the number of people in the county jail, a result of national movement to let less troubling criminals out of jail.
The jail was overcrowded, Berry said. Reducing the number of people in jail is “laudable,” but “it has gone too far too fast.”
The big reduction in the number of police officers came from changes in public employee retirement programs that induced employees to take the money and retire.
Two questions: First, I can’t imagine that Berry’s administration had nothing to do with developing the policies that reduced the number of people in jail or that changed the retirement programs. Second, it would be interesting to connect the jail policies with the fact that Albuquerque as a cadre of people for whom their job, as in an 8-to-5 job, is stealing cars. These people score a half-dozen or so cars each day they “work,” the cops tell us.
Much of the celebration of homeless program “success” came during a lengthy separate segment before Berry talked.
Post homeless and pre-Berry it was family time. Berry’s wife Maria Medina went on about the glories of being first lady and of serving Albuquerque. Mayoral parents were introduced. I’m not sure which set. All very chummy.
Berry gave the expected list of accomplishments. The economy is growing (well, sort of). Government is more efficient. There has been $33 million in “efficiency” savings. New companies have come. The spending increase has been kept “right at the rate of inflation.”
“Downtown is fast becoming” an arts and entrepreneurial community. Of course Berry didn’t mention that downtown remains pretty much empty due to the departure of banks and PNM administrative staff.
During Berry’s administration the city has “completed / initiated” 901 “projects” costing $1.27 billion, a Berry handout said. This is an exaggeration. For example, for what I presume to be the biggest project, the $93 million rebuilding of the Interstate 25 and Paseo del Norte interchange, the city may have initiated the project, but fuzzy memory suggest that came long before Berry was mayor. The feds provided $8 million and $29.7 million came from the state, according to a December 14, 2014 Albuquerque Journal story.
Albuquerque’s basic services are among the best in the country Berry said. Wallethub.com, a website, rates Albuquerque as one of the three best run cities in the country, he said, according to my notes. I checked Wallethub. A July 17 report there puts Albuquerque as 23rd for the quality of city services and Las Cruces as 6th. Maybe I heard wrong.
Two videos provided a break from the talking. One was a FoxNews story about the awful consequences of California letting people out of jail. The other celebrated new light around Albuquerque.

Friday, September 22, 2017

NM Adds 8,600 Wage Jobs in August

As reported here last week, New Mexico added 8,600 wage jobs, on a not seasonally adjusted basis, during the year from August 2016 to August 2017. Also as reported, our unemployment now ranks third nationally. The numbers come from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
Seasonally adjusted, the statewide wage job gain was 5,700.
State job growth continues on a good track, for us, anyway. Year-over-year growth was 7,500 in May, 15,600 in June and 8,400 in July. Given the state’s economic weaknesses and track record the past few years, I’m not willing to predict anything. It may be a dead cat bounce.
More detailed numbers came today from DWS’ Labor Market Review newsletter. See
www.dws.state.nm.us.
Albuquerque added 4,200 jobs for the year. Our other three metro areas netted no jobs during the year. That means the 26 rural counties scored 4,400 new wage jobs over the year.
For the small metros, the job score was: Farmington, – 300, Las Cruces, + 100, Santa Fe + 200.
Sidenote: there is all sorts of construction in the core of downtown Las Cruces. One corollary effect is that, as of mid-September, the location of the Chamber of Commerce was a mystery. Days before my frustrating search for the chamber, it had moved from a nearly empty Loretto Towne Centre (notice the oh-so-cool spelling) to a building, an old home, now renovated, with street exposure, but not yet a sign. Nor had my phone figured out the change.
The state added 8,400 jobs during the month August. That suggests that all but 200 of the yearly gain of 8,600 was in August. I’m not sure it quite works that way, but certainly the annual job growth has been recent as opposed to say, last fall.
By contrast, Albuquerque’s August growth of 800 jobs, while decent, was modest compared to the state. For Albuquerque’s year, Education and Health Services (EHS) led the growth with 2,100 new jobs, followed by construction (+1,500) and finance (1,200). State government lost 600 jobs during the year. Manufacturing lost 500.

Friday, September 15, 2017

July to August Employment Jump Called "Significant"

New Mexico’s unemployment rate showed real change in the year from August 2016 to August 2017 by dropping half a point from 6.8% to 6.3%. The state skipped what has been the typical tenth of a point change.
Alaska remains the unemployment rate leader followed by Washington, D.C., at 6.4%. We continue in third place, though with a greater distance from Alaska.
The change happened with a slight increase in the labor force, which grew about 2,700 during the year to 929,151, seasonally adjusted. Employment grew 6,700 and sucked around 4,800 people from the unemployed ranks, year, over the August to August year. Life isn’t entirely rosy, however. The labor force has dropped by 4,700, still seasonally adjusted, since June.
The state’s 5,700-person one month increase, seasonally adjusted, in employment was called statistically significant by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which produces the numbers. The drop in the unemployment rate, however cheery, was not significant.
Looking at the sectors, without seasonal adjustment, the biggest jump came in leisure and hospitality (L&H) with 4,000 new wage jobs over the year and total wage jobs of 102,800 for August. L&H is mostly tourism. The sector attracts sneering at the modest earnings from restaurants, hotels and small retailers. The L&H businesses spread across the state, though they concentrate in Taos, Ruidoso, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The sneerers are wrong.
The professional and business services group with 3,800 new wage jobs for the year came just behind L&H. These are the consulting engineers, software types, lawyers, accountants and landscape architects.
Construction produced 3,000 new wage jobs, year over year. Go Figure. But I read that the Facebook job outside Los Lunas has 800 people working, soon to have 1,000. But those jobs will go away within months.
The education and health services group, for some time the state’s job leader as Medicaid ramped up, produced 2,200 wage jobs over the year with a curious mix. The education part showed 2,200 new jobs and health services lost 200.
Among the metros, the labor force in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe was flat. Farmington was down.
Side note: Las Cruces has considerable construction happening downtown. Finding the chamber of commerce this week was a pain.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Jobs and Economic Diversification: Abq Journal Story of 9/11/17

Being good at her job, the Albuquerque’s Journal’s Ellen Marks, assistant business editor, decided to ask around about New Mexico’s situation with regard to growing employment and diversifying the economy. The answers from a couple of the state’s leading economists were, respectively: Not much and none. The economists were Jeff Mitchell, director of the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economist Research, and Jim Peach of New Mexico State University.
The story ran September 11.
Probably inadvertently, Marks provided Gov. Susana Martinez a place to demonstrate ignoring the issue. As was professionally appropriate, Marks asked to interview the governor. (Marks said “the Journal” asked for the interview; I presume it was Marks.) The response, quoting from the story, the Journal got, from “spokesman Michael Lonergan, ‘Unfortunately we don’t have the availability for an interview in the Governor’s calendar at this time.”
That’s absurd. If Gov. Martinez wanted to talk, there would be time to talk. Martinez kicked the bucket to economic development secretary Matt Geilsel (who I’m told is a good guy) who was stuck with saying, “the one percent growth in jobs over the past year is evidence that the state is headed in the right direction with “incremental, positive progress.”
Martinez is not appearing at the 2017 Domenici Institute conference in Las Cruces where she has been a fixture at the previous gatherings I have attended. The conference is this week, September 13 and 14.
Another gem appeared from a Martinez statement last month, “Through relentless commitment to reforms—balancing budgets, cutting taxes and streamlining regulations—we’re growing and diversifying our economy and competing for jobs and investment with neighboring states like never before —and even beating them.”
Governors like to say that balancing the state budget is a big deal, an accomplishment. Not so. In most states as in New Mexico, balancing the budget is a constitutional requirement. So a governor bragging on this is bragging on doing the job. Wow. AS to the Martinez tax cuts, I looked at them in a February column (see nmopinions.com) and found them to be much ado about very little.
A theme to the article is the ultra conventional received wisdom that recruiting companies to the state is the answer. Yes, recruiting is part of the answer. But the rest is looking at the entire state for the oft mentioned systemic issues such as the underground economy, one-person firms and financial institution capability.
Final note: Ben Cloutier said, attributing the comment to Gov. Martinez, that the movie biz had put more than $500 million into the NM economy. Over one year, or multiple years, the story didn’t say. But while $500 million is a lot of money, the state’s GDP was $93 million in 2016. So it wasn’t that big a deal. The statement also said the movie was “supporting 90,000 jobs in 2015.” That doesn’t says the movie biz employs 90,000 people. “Supporting” looks like one of those words carefully chosen to imply more than it says. If true, movies would provide more than 10% of the wage jobs in the state. I don’t believe it.

Metro Home Sales Down 11% from June

Sales peaked in June for single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque. For August the 1,092 closed sales were 136 units, or 11%, down from June. Sales of attached homes (townhouses and condominiums) also peaked in June (at 112) and dropped 21% to 96 for August. The figures are in the August sales report released today by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
August closed sales were up eight units, or 0.8%, from July and nine units from August 2016.
Pending sales behaved a little differently during August, climbing back to tie April at 1,080 for the 2017 high. Even so, pending sales have been flat since March at 1,150 units, plus or minus. The increase from the 1,133 pending sales in July was 47, or four percent, and 17.2% from 1,007 in August 2016. It was 2007 when pending sales were last over 1,000 for several months.
The homes that closed during August were on the market an average of 44 days, down from 50 days in August 2016. The average sales period has been below 50 days since May.
Attached homes are selling even faster, on the market for 40 days during August, 39 days in July and 38 during June.
Both the median and average price increased, year over year, during August for metro detached homes.
The median price, $202,825 during August, was up 6.7%, or $12,825, from August 2016 and increased $3,325, or 1.7%, from July.
However, the average price dropped $382 from July to $237,532 and is down $4,869, or two percent, from the 2017 peak of $242,401 in June. The August average was up five percent from $226,322 for August 2016.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Unemployment Rate 3rd Nationally; New Mexicans Working in Texas

The headlines about the monthly jobs report from the Department of Workforce Services normally go to the number of jobs or the unemployment rate. So it was for July with the 6.3% unemployment rate mentioned first. Unmentioned, except for a table listing on page was that New Mexico’s unemployment rate, though down a half a point over the past year, remains third nationally, behind only Alaska and the District of Columbia. This detail showed in a table on page 31 of DWS Labor Market Review newsletter which was released today. The table also showed that Alaska and D.C. have done worse than New Mexico in terms of unemployment rate which has increased for both over the July to July year. The July unemployment rate was “not notably different” from June for 46 states, among them New Mexico, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
The private sector added 11,500 jobs during the year, government dropped 3,100. The net was a gain of 8,400, seasonally unadjusted. For the month, the private guys lost 2,000 jobs, government lost 8,000.
The June increase was revised down 24 percent to 15,600 jobs in the July report.
Private education added 2,600 jobs for the year, a 15 percent increase. Health services, health care and social assistance added 1,100 jobs, a 0.9 percent growth rate probably reflecting slower Medicaid growth.
Albuquerque dominated the July job report with 4,900 new jobs, year over year, or 58 percent of the total. The other three metro areas, together, produced zero new jobs.
In Albuquerque, education and health services added 2,600 jobs, 70% of the state total.
Albuquerque financial activities added an unlikely (to me) 1,100 jobs year over year for 6% growth on a base of 18,400 in July 2016. Statewide the finance gain was all of 400.
Leisure and hospitality (tourism) dropped 1,800 jobs during July, following a June increase that DWS called “unusually high.” L&H gained 2,900 for the year.
DWS put some numbers on the two-way flow of workers between New Mexico and Texas. In 2014, Lea and Eddy Counties were the only two New Mexico counties to gain workers from Texas. (Oil prices peaked in mid-2014; employment quickly followed.) Together, Lea and Eddy attracted almost 2,200 workers from Texas while Curry had 1,012 working in Texas, most of them in next-door Parmer County, but with 441 drawn to metro Amarillo and 35 driving to Lubbock.
Another example from DWS, “Over twice as many Chaves and Otero residents were working in El Paso than El Paso residents working in Chaves and Otero.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Progressivism, Somewhat Defined

From the Weekly Standard, August 21, 2017
From a review of The Demon in Democracy by Ryszard Legutko
Reviewer: Matthew B. Crawford

"Like François Furet before him, Legutko suggests that the key to understanding the character of life in a liberal democracy is the role that history—or rather History, understood as inevitable progress in a certain direction—plays in the liberal imagination. In recent decades, this manifested as the enthusiasm for trying to bring liberal democracy to very illiberal places using the blunt instruments of military action and marketization. But it was during the Obama era that this energy really got released onto the domestic scene for the first time in perhaps 40 years. Liberals started calling themselves progressives—a rebranding significant because it announced a new boldness in speaking an idiom of historical necessity. It announced a new impatience with foot-draggers as well...
"Willful obtuseness to social phenomena is crucial in constructing the symbolic persons at the heart of these progressive dramas, because the point of the dramas is for the progressive to act out his own virtue as one who embraces the symbol. Progressive purity, based on abstraction from social reality, sometimes has to be guarded by policing the speech of real individuals who are putatively the objects of the progressive’s enthusiasm, or the speech of those who are in more intimate contact with these individuals and threaten to complicate the picture—for example, the speech of the social worker who frankly describes the confusion and unhappiness that mark the lives of transgender people. The great march forward requires the erasure of “gender binaries,” and that is all one needs to know."

Denver Envy Still Wastes Time

In late July the Albuquerque Journal ran stories in the business section proclaiming younger adults love of Denver, the lifestyle and the economic opportunity. My letter to the editor response went to the Journal July 30. I don’t think it has run. The letter is the July 30 post, below. The stories unlocked memories of past Albuquerque junkets, commonly led by the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, to places such as Portland, Florida and Denver.
An accidental reminder of the Denver difference appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal. A story about telecommunications tycoon John Malone mentioned that his Liberty Global PLC, “the world’s biggest international cable company” was operated from “Mr. Malone’s hometown of Denver,” though it is incorporated in London.
A couple of decades ago there was Bill Daniels, a pioneer in the cable television industry. Daniels was the brother of Jack Daniels who stayed in the hometown of Hobbs and made money and did politics. Jack was father of Diane Denish, former Lt. Governor. Bill Daniels was a competitor of Malone and Ted Turner in the early cable days.
This international business infrastructure has no Albuquerque equivalent. It is an important part of today’s Denver. It makes the Albuquerque’s decades-long Denver envy a waste of time.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

July Abq Home Sales Down From June, Up From 2016

Sales of metro Albuquerque single family detached homes peaked at 1,196 in May, dropped ever so slightly in June to 1,194 and then to 1,075 in July, according to Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors, which released the July sales report today.
The pace of sales has eased. In June, 93% of the 1,279 May pending sales turned into closed sales. For July, it was 84% of June’s 1,283 pending sales closed. This rough metric assumes it takes about 45 days for a sale to close.
The 1,214 sales that were pending during July is down from 1,283 in June, which was essentially the same as the 1,279 sales pending during May. The May and June pending figures were down a bit from 1,299 in March and 1,331 (the pending peak for the year) in April.
On a year-over-year basis, pending sales remain popping. July pending sales were 29.6% above July 2016. June was 22.9% ahead of a year ago.
June’s 1,075 closed sales were just five units ahead of July 2016.
Homes continue to sell more quickly. Homes sold during July were on the market and average of 42 days, down from 46 days in June and from 48 days for July 2016.
In my neighborhood just north of UNM, two homes reduced the average days on the market. One sold to two young lawyers with a toddler grabbing their first home the day it hit the market. The other took a plodding five days. Both were early 1950s stucco on wood frame with three bedrooms and about 1,800 square feet. Couples bought both homes. The other couple, in their 40s, renovates homes, investing sweat equity and then sells.
The median sales price, $199,250 in July, dropped from $200,000 in June. The median price was $199,950 in May. The July median price was 4.9% up from July 2016. July’s average price increased $2,091, or 0.89%, from June. The average increased 5.3% from July 2016.
The inventory of homes for sale—3,566 during July—continued well under

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Policy Perspectives From Senior Democrats Diverge

The Albuquerque Journal’s Denver-envy articles and some education stories generated response in the Letters to the Editor section.
Two top establishment Democrats supplied letters that ran August 1 and 2. They offered different perspectives. Dick Minzer's view was useful and informative.
Chuck Wellborn, Albuquerque lawyer and tax expert, offered some thoughts, but no way to accomplish the platitudes and ended with a chamber of commerce rah, rah, “We need cooperation and collaboration, to knock off the name calling and to work together successfully. There’s no way we can’t accomplish this.”
Wellborn’s points included spending more money on pre-K through post-secondary education, fixing post-secondary without getting the four-year institutions out of the constitution, fixing roads with higher gas taxes, and fixing the tax system, the gross receipts part in particular. Wellborn began with a cheap shot at economic developers—professionalize our economic development efforts—his broad brush catching all developers. Wellborn should have named names such as the departed Jon Barela, now being a politician in El Paso with the Borderplex Bi-National Economic Alliance. Gary Tonjes of Albuquerque Economic Development is plenty professional and was unfairly slammed by Wellborn.
Dick Minzer also is an Albuquerque lawyer, tax expert. Minzer also is a lobbyist sometimes called “powerful” by those who make such judgments, was a state representative long ago and secretary of the Taxation and Revenue department.
Minzer considered school problems and policies at some length. His August 2 letter ran 25 inches of copy. He called for comparing New Mexico’s education performance with surrounding states, something, so far as he knows, has not been done but could be done by the three legislative education committees, state government’s education bureaucracies, the sundry business groups. Minzer poses additional worthy questions such as, “Is it too difficult and expensive in New Mexico to terminate under-performing teachers?”
Minzer’s questions are the preferable place to start. While he doesn’t say who should do the analysis to get the answers he does at least name names of organizations that claim to be interested.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What Happened to Albuquerque?

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked what had happened to Albuquerque. We had been discussing the city’s “situation.” What follows is an edited version of my response with names deleted to protect the guilty and the innocent.

I still lack a good answer, but here are a few thoughts.
1. Intel peaked around 1994 with 5,700 employees plus about that many contractors. Phillips, DEC. and Signetics went away. The support firms for the “Silicon Mesa” went away. The data analytics business in Santa Fe didn’t grow much and then faded
2. The Abq-based public companies went away: Diagnostek, Santa Fe Pacific Gold, Nuclear Pharmacy, Furr’s Supermarkets (probably not much net job loss there as we still have to have supermarkets), Sun Healthcare (run by Andy Turner).
3. Jerry Geist was finally run out of PNM in 1990, but PNM struggled for years and Abq operations remain well below the scale of when they filled two downtown buildings.
4. The banks got in trouble in the late 1980s. Sunwest was taken over by Boatmen’s around 1994 and then Boatmen’s was swallowed by Bank of America. BofA laid me off from Sunwest in 1997. Over time BofA let the NM operations erode. I don’t know why, but I have watched the numbers. Administrative functions went to staff of the big banks in larger markets. The local administrative and banking staff such as loan officers retired or left town or went to credit unions such as Sandia Labs FCU. Getting loans became more difficult. BofA keeps their trust-related attorneys in a cave in Phoenix. (long story.) Bank of Abq runs advertising and marketing from Tulsa, home to poppa, the Bank of Oklahoma.
5. The banks have largely left downtown Abq. The Hyatt was the last big building in downtown. 20 years ago.
6. The contractor population at Sandia is down.
7. The auto dealer chains are a big factor with little interest in community, at least as compared to when the stores were owned by locals.

We have become a community of branch plants (a state really). Look at the boards of the Abq Chamber and ACI. They are heavily populated by corporate government relations types, who will have no authority to take any action. Lawyers and healthcare types dominate the ACI executive committee.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Albuquerque Journal's Denver Envy

The following is a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal. It was submitted in reaction to the Journal's editorial today and to the articles in the Business Outlook section that ran July 24.

The Journal asks what Denver has that Albuquerque doesn’t. Well, size to start.
Colorado’s 2016 population was 5.5 million. New Mexico’s was 2.1 million. Denver’s seven-county metro is 3.07 million. Albuquerque had 909,000 in 2016. Add 144,000 for Santa Fe.
Because of the population difference, comparing job growth (between June 2016 and June 2017 Colorado added 54,900 jobs versus New Mexico’s 19,300) is disingenuous, even wrong.
Larger size brings agglomeration, which means that more economic activity happens in the larger population metro area. There are economics of scale.
Denver is the major leagues (Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets, Avalanche). Albuquerque is AAA. The more appropriate comparison is with relatively isolated AAA cities: Des Moines, Omaha, Tucson, Tulsa. The Journal ignores this.
The Economic Innovation Group (eig.org) of Washington, D.C., says New Mexico “began the 1990s as a classic western knowledge economy that appeared primed for continued growth. But, with no major metro area and a relatively undiversified technology sector, the state fell further and further behind its neighbors over the years that followed.”
EIG also says that by percentage just four states have more people leaving.
Workers go to Colorado, says the Department of Workforce Solutions in the June Labor Market Review, 3,903 between 2007 and 2015, an outflow behind only Texas.
Denver offers a different dynamic, as the Journal’s anecdotes illustrate. My brother Tom moved to Denver in 1998 after deciding Coloradans were decent, professional and paid regularly.
It’s a puzzle, the Journal editorializes, one that “New Mexico has to put together.” The puzzle includes a host of systemic issues. An independent public policy institute would be one tool for the sorting. See capitolreportnm.blogspot.com for more.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Policy Issues Confronting New Mexico Today

Revised 2017. Prepared for discussion by Harold Morgan, syndicated columnist

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, a change revealed by the 2010 census. 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. We are among the lowest four states in the ratio of employment to population. We don’t work. Why?
• Land use and ownership. The private sector is the biggest owner of land in the state with 44 percent. 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.
• Land use policies in Albuquerque that have largely eliminated available property for industrial buildings.
• 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, www.percreports.org or www.perc.org.) Custodial “trust” relationship with federal government, besides being racist, inhibits reservation economic activity.
• New Mexico as the nation’s number two majority-minority state.
• Non-employee businesses. Who are they? What do they do?
• Northern counties as “rural ghetto,” a result in part from the “romantic” idealization imported and promoted by Mabel Dodge Lujan a century ago.
• 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 and 2015 and flat in 2016 as new babies offset departures.
• 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.
• New Mexico’s Constitution. And how well does state government function from a operational standpoint?
• Transportation – highways, that is. Nine figure gap between desired construction and maintenance and money available.
• Underground or shadow economy. The only available estimate says 9.1% of New Mexico’s gross state product operates “off the books.” Where are these people? Aspects: cash only, no regular healthcare, no use of banks, inability to grow businesses. See Non-employee businesses.
• 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.
• A generation or two of uneducated young people outside the system, trained by circumstances in avoiding work, and in violence and abuse and destined to pass along this scary heritage.
• 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.


Public Policy Institute Summarized

DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT

A Public Policy Institute for New Mexico July 2017
(prepared by Harold Morgan, syndicated columnist, progress@swcp.com)

Purpose / Mission: To inject into the public dialogue substantive, rigorous analysis of the policy challenges facing the state backed by a communications program to ensure the policy alternatives posed get attention from citizen and political leaders.

Present Need: A business plan. Estimated cost, $20,000 plus travel.

Outcome(s)/Products: Immediate product will be rigorous exploration of issues facing the state. Intermediate: Policy actions responding to issues/problems addressed in institute report. Over time: Improvements in key measures: education, economy, institutional structures.

Stakeholders: Children. Governor and legislature (independently developed policies). People involved in policy. Institute members and financial supporters. Media (something to report). Civic and business leaders.

Structure: Private, non-partisan, non-profit. Staff: One or two.
Operating budget: $150,000. Issue research: $50,000 to $150,000 per project depending on scope.
Financing: Member dues, grants, foundations, corporate. (Fundraising professional assumed)
Board: Leading policy professionals such as senior faculty from UNM & NMSU, economics & political Science. State government senior economist (LFC?).
Activity: Two to four research reports per year. Unveiled at two conferences per year.
Communications follow up to research reports: continuous.

Marketing: Mostly free media (newspapers, TV), social media for continuing public contact.

Models: North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research (nccppr.org); Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University; Renewing the Creative Economy of New Mexico (Arts Study), Department of Cultural Affairs, 2014. State-level policy institutes are common. Most advance an ideological agenda.

Issues: Demographics, economy, broadband, environmental, financial institution, “government dependence,” labor force/work, land use and ownership, Native American, non-employee businesses, technology transfer, state constitution, transportation (highways), underground economy, education, communication/media.

Abq Jobs Up 2% June-to-June. Workers Moving to Colorado

Metro Albuquerque added 7,600 wage jobs for a 2% increase from June 2016 to June 2017. Not bad, pretty good actually for us, but short of the stellar 2.3% and 19,300 jobs reported for the state. The other three metro areas were flat for the year with Las Cruces up 500 (+0.7%), Santa Fe up 300 (0.5%) and Farmington down 300 or 0.6%. For the 26 rural counties, subtract the metros and find that they were up 8,100 jobs for the year.
The statewide mystery increase came in finance with 1,000 new jobs, 5.5% increase on a base of 18,300 jobs in June 2016. From where?
The figures were released yesterday afternoon, July 28, by the Department of Workforce Solutions. The report is in DWS’ Labor Market Review newsletter.
New Mexico’s unemployment, 6.4% in June, remained second nationally to Alaska’s 6.8%. The District of Columbia with 6.2% unemployment is the only other area above six percent.
Sector activity in Las Cruces and Santa Fe was modest, plus or minus 100 jobs here and there. The two added 800 leisure and hospitality jobs between them.
For the month between May and June 2017, the state dropped 1,100 jobs, or 0.1%, with 6,000 additional private sectors jobs more than offset by 7,100 fewer public sector jobs. The state’s job drop concentrated in education with higher ed, down 2,800 and local ed, down 5,200. Welcome to summer.
Albuquerque’s happiness was led by education and health services (Medicaid) up 2,800, followed by leisure and hospitality, up 2,300 jobs.
State government in three metros added 900 jobs over the year with no change in Farmington. The rest of the state, therefore, was down 1,400 jobs.
This month’s Labor Market Review contains an information analysis was worker migration from 2007 to 2015.
As might be expected, we lose workers to neighboring and nearby states, Texas and Colorado especially. Also Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana and North Dakota. The Northwest is a big attraction with Washington and Oregon both drawing more than 1,100 workers for the nine-year period. Workers can to the state from places such as California, Illinois, Michigan Missouri and Mississippi.
DWS split the analysis into 2007 to 2010 and 2011 to 2015. As New Mexico’s economy deteriorated in the 2011 to 2015 time, worker movement changed. People moved to Arizona and California from New Mexico. Movement to Texas increased and went way up to Colorado with about a three-fold increase.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Jobs Grow 2.3%; Some Statistical Shifting Involved

New Mexico added 19,300 (seasonally unadjusted) wage jobs, or 2.3%, between June 2016 and June 2017, an amazing performance for a state that has produced year-over-year job growth—when there was job growth—of more like 0.2% for a long time.
Though New Mexico’s unemployment rate dropped, the state’s 6.4% rate remained second nationally to Alaska’s 6.8%. Our two tenths of a point decline in the unemployment rate from May was considered statistically significant by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reports the numbers. The state’s increase in wage jobs from June 2016 was not considered statistically significant.
The Department of Workforce Solutions released the June job summary last Friday, July 21. DWS said, “The spike in growth is partly due to shifts in seasonality in government employment.” How much of the growth came from the statistical shuffling, DWS did not say. We will learn more come Friday the 28th when DWS unveils details in the Labor Market Review newsletter.
The private sector added 18,900 jobs, a performance DWS called “the largest gain in over a decade.” The size of this sudden improvement makes it statistically suspicious. Not that DWS is cooking the books, but I wonder about things under the surface.
The leisure and hospitality segment (mostly tourism) added 7,500 jobs over the year including 4,300 between May and June. The annual gain led all sectors. The 7.7% year-over-year gain appears a little too good to be true, as does the state’s job jump. Revisions always follow. The question will be how much revision.
For the year from June 2015 to June 2016, the state added 14,000 jobs including 5,300 in leisure and hospitality. The 2015-2016 gain was driven by education and health services (EHS) (Medicaid) which gained 9,800 jobs.
The EHS growth has dropped. The sector “only” added 3,200 jobs during the most recent year.
The 8.1% year-over-year gain in construction jobs led the sectors in percentage improvement. Construction added 3,500 jobs.
Additional good news comes with the addition of 2,600 jobs in the professional and business services sector and with the 200 of only 200 jobs, year-over-year in mining.
Manufacturing supplied bad news with the loss of 800 jobs.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

June Abq Homes Sales Look Good

Sometimes things get set aside. No reason. No excuse. Just happens. So here we are five days after the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the June sales report.
Compared to June 2016, the performance of single family detached homes looks good. Compared to the past few months the market may be flattening.
Homes are selling quickly from a limited inventory. During June the homes sold were on the market an average of 46 days, one less day than a year ago and 16 days less than January.
June saw the sale close on 1,194 homes, 69 units, or 6.1%, more than June 2016. The 1,194 homes sold were two less than May.
Pending sales during June saw a big jump from a year before—22.9%. The 1,283 sales pending were slightly above the 1,279 sales pending during May. Both May and June were a little below March and April
During June 93% of the sales pending during May turned into a sales that closed in June. That’s assuming the rule of thumb for a 45-day closing period still works.
In my neighborhood just north of the University of New Mexico two homes sold within a few days—maybe five days—of being put on the market. Both are the basic early 1950s 1,800 square foot, three bedroom wood frame/stucco. One buyer is a young family—two lawyers and their three-year-old—who had been renting nearby and camping on the internet watching as homes hit the market. The other buyer is a couple maybe in their 40s who buy and renovate homes, doing much of the work themselves. They, too, had sought a new project for months.
The median price was $185,000 for homes sold during January. The median price for the 5,761 homes sold during the first six months of the year was $193,500 with a $200,000 median for June.
For homes sold during the first half of 2017, the average price was $231,575 with the average for the month of June at $243,099.
The June median price was a barely there 0.4% increase from June 2016. June’s average price was up 3.9% from June 2016.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Four Metros Together Lose 100 Jobs

Among the state’s four metro areas, it was a 100-job loss for the year from May 2016 to May 2017. The figures are not seasonally adjusted. Thus all the state’s year-over-year gain of 7,500 wage jobs came from the 26 rural counties, plus 100 jobs to cover the metro loss. This is an exceptional performance.
The state’s Department of Workforce Solutions released the metro job numbers today in the May issue of its newsletter, “Labor Market Review.”
The pattern for the three smaller metro areas—Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Farmington—was that a sector gains or loses 100 jobs, then another sector gains or loses 200 jobs. Albuquerque showed some bigger numbers. But then Albuquerque’s wage job total was 389,700 for May. SO there’s more to work with. Albuquerque professional and business services lost 1,600 jobs. State government lost 1,400. Manufacturing lost 1,000. Education and health services added 1,000. Construction added 1,200. Financial activities dropped 600. Transportation gained 700.
Santa Fe, the seat of government, reported the 23rd consecutive monthly job loss, down 100 jobs. The decline was in local government.
The Labor Market Review had to interesting special articles if you’re into numbers without worrying about why the numbers behave that way. “Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) 2016 at a Glance” reviewed employment distribution by major occupational group and discussed the earnings of some occupations. Office and administrative support is the biggest group with 15.3% of the total. That’s nice, but it says little about the functioning of the economy. What do these administrative supporters support?
Architecture and engineers lead average median wages with $85,880. Again, that’s nice. Among some more detailed occupations, pediatricians make the most with an annual median of $192,810.
The other article is “2016 Gross Domestic Product Data.” New Mexico’s GDP trends down.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mining Job Losses Dropped to 300, Year Over Year

New Mexico’s unemployment rate dropped ever so slightly during May. The change, on a seasonally adjusted basis, was from 6.7% in April and also May 2016 to 6.6% for May 2017. To call the “improvement” less than statistically insignificant seems appropriate.
Colorado continued with the lowest rate, 2.3%. New Mexico swapped places with Alaska is placed second. The DWS release, out this afternoon, studiously avoided these details.
The labor force, seasonally adjusted, grew by 8,062 to 934,867 during the year from May 2016 to May 2017. The number of unemployed stayed essentially the same during the year, dropping by 306 to 61,626 in May.
Statewide there appeared 7,500 net new jobs on a not seasonally adjusted basis during the May to May year with 10,000 jobs in the private sector and 2,500 fewer in government. The big government loss was 2,300 in state government education (post secondary schools), possibly due to the end of the semester.
Mining and logging lost another 300 jobs over the year, suggesting that sector’s three years of job losses may have essentially stopped.
Leisure and hospitality (tourism) led the gaining sectors with 3,500 more jobs, or 3.6% growth. Construction’s growth was 3,200 jobs, a 7.5% gain. Education and health services added 2,500 jobs with the gain split among the two sectors with education up 1,200 and health care up 1,300.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Home Sales Resume Climb

After a quick and slight dip during April, metro Albuquerque closed sales of single family detached homes resume the upward climb in May with 1,196 sales, a 215 unit, or 18% increase from April. May sales were 178 units above May 2016.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors (gaar.com) released the May sales report yesterday.
Pending sales went the other way during May with 1,279, a drop of 52 from 1,331 in April, and ending down 20 units from 1,299 for March. The pending sales for May were 20.7% above May 2016.
The sales are happening faster. A couple of houses around the corner from me sold recently within a week.
During May homes were on the market an average of 45 days, four days or 8.2% less than May 2016. During April, homes sold in an average of 51 days with 51 days during April.
The inventory of homes for sale, 3,266 during May, is running 20% less than the comparable month during 2016.
Pries are steady to up. The median sales price was $199,950 during May, a $9,950, or 5.2%, increase from May 2016 and up $5,450 from April. The average price was $235,723 for May, down $152 from April. However, the average is up 4% from May 2017, or about $9,000, from My 2016 and up $14,000, or 6%, from April. A couple of million dollar sales can have a material effect on the average price.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Construction Leads April Job Growth

Job production in metro Albuquerque dominates the metro areas these days with 86%, or 1,900, of the 2,200 metro wage jobs added between April 2016 and April 2017.
But the metro areas aren’t carrying the state. Those 2,200 metro jobs are just 30% of the 7,400 wage jobs appearing across the state during the April to April year.
The state’s smaller metros job growth was Santa Fe, +700; Las Cruces, +300; and -700 in Farmington.
In Albuquerque manufacturing lost 1,100 jobs for the year with professional and business services down 1,000.
Construction led sector job production in Albuquerque with 1,200 more jobs, year over year. Construction added another 1,400 jobs around the rest of the state. Education and health services added 900 jobs, but the EHS growth rate of 1.4% was well off the past years. Tourism (leisure and hospitality found 800 jobs during the year.
The Department of Workforce Solutions released the metro job report today.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Unemployment Rate Remains Nation's Highest

A little job momentum appears. New Mexico added 7,400 wages jobs during the year from April 2016 to April 2017. At 0.9%, the growth approached one percent, a magic number of sorts. The March job growth was revised to 7,400, the Department of Workforce Solutions said yesterday in its news release. The original March figure was 6,800 for year-over-year growth.
What DWS didn’t say was that New Mexico’s unemployment rate remains the nation’s highest at 6.7%, just ahead of Alaska’s 6.6%. NM and Alaska are only states over 6%. Colorado has nation’s lowest at 2.3%.
The especially good news is that mining only lost 500 jobs year over year, well down from the thousands of year over year losses that have plagued the sector since oil prices peaked in mid-2014. National stories repeat that oil companies look at the Permian Basin, our oil Mecca, with gleams in their eyes.
The health care and social assistance part of education and health services (EHS) added 600 jobs, or 0.5%, quite different from 2016 when the EHS sector was the state’s fastest growing with 5,700 new wage jobs, year over year.
Manufacturing took the lead for sector job losses, down 900 jobs, or 3.3%.
State government dropped 1,300 jobs led by 1,400 fewer jobs in state government education, meaning universities. (Other parts of state government apparently added 100 jobs.) Local government education (K-12) dropped 500 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality (L&H) led the gainer sectors with 3,300 more jobs, year-over-year, a nice 3.5 % increase. (L&H) had added jobs for 6.5 years, DWS said. Construction added 2,600 jobs, a six percent increase.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Abq Home Sales down Slightly During April; Prices Up

In May, the pattern for single family detached home sales in metro Albuquerque got a little disrupted. The number of closed sales—981 during April— dropped slightly—all of 30 units, or 3%—from 1,011 during March. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the April sales report today.
April’s sales were 76% of the 1,299 homes with a sale pending during March, a low percentage. April’s closed sales performance was eight ahead of the 973 homes sold during April 2016. That’s a 0.8% increase.
The rest of the pattern stayed in place—fewer homes offered for sale, homes selling faster, prices increasing and more sales pending.
The median sales price was $194,500 during April, a $9,500, or 5.1%, increase from April 2016. The median sales price for March was $187,500. April’s average sales price was $235,875, up 8.8% from April 2016. The March average price was $222,759.
Pending sales were 1,331 during April, 1,299 during March and 1,080 during April 2016.
Homes sold during April took an average of 51 days to sell. The average sales period was 54 days during March and 59 days during April 2016.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Weekly Working Hours, Earnings Drop in Metro Areas

Of the state’s 6,800 new wage jobs between March 2016 and March 2017, 2,100 came in the north central urban area of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Albuquerque added 2,000 jobs, or 0.5%, with 100 more jobs in Santa Fe, a 0.5% increase. Las Cruces has 1,000 more jobs for the year, a nice 1.4% increase, while Farmington lost 1,600 jobs, a heavy 3.2% drop. The numbers here are not seasonally adjusted and came this afternoon from the Department of Workforce Solutions.
Statewide state government education, meaning post-secondary education, was down 1,700 jobs. The losses appear to be in rural counties as the metro areas showed little movement. This is a guess as the data isn’t broken out.
Albuquerque added 1,300 jobs between February and March.
Education and health services (EHS) accounted for 1,300 of Albuquerque’s year-over-year new jobs. Information added 600 with 400 more in construction.
Year-over-year Albuquerque manufacturing dropped 900 jobs for a sector total of 15,300. This is just over half the peak of 28,900 jobs in August 1997 and the lowest total since January 1990.
In Las Cruces the year-over-year sector leaders were leisure and hospitality (LH) and education and health services (EHS), both with 400 more jobs. The LH gain was 4.9% with 2.6% for the larger EHS.
In Santa Fe, EHS led the losers, down 200 jobs for the third year-over-year loss in nine months. LH added 400 jobs.
Farmington continues to be hit by oil and gas. Wage employment is below the 2010 average of 48,400.
Average weekly working hours in the private sector were down, year-over-year for all four metros as were average weekly earnings.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Unemployment Rate Leadership Continues

In March New Mexico kept its leadership among the states in unemployment (seasonally adjusted), according to today’s release of wage job figures from federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s Department of Workforce Solutions reported the 6.7% unemployment rate in its news release, as it had to, but somehow overlooked New Mexico’s leading position.
The unemployment rate was down an insignificant tenth of a point from February and up an equally insignificant tenth of a point from March 2016. We are hanging in at more than two points above the national unemployment rate of 4.9%. Mississippi’s one point unemployment year over year rate drop—from 6% to 5%—was significant.
Overall, the BS said, “Unemployment rates were lower in March in 17 states and stable in 33 states and the District of Columbia.”
The state added 7,100 wage jobs (seasonally adjusted jobs) in the year between March 2016 and March 2017, a performance the BLS did not consider statistically significant. This insignificance was too insignificant to make the DWS release. Seasonally unadjusted, the job gain was 6,800.
For mining and logging, the continuing drag on the state’s job picture, the year-over-year loss was down to 1,400.
Among the other losers, manufacturing continued down with a year-over-year drop of 1,100 in the durable goods sector. Retail trade dropped 800 seasonally adjusted jobs. Education lost 2,000 jobs with 1,700 (5.6%) from higher education (state government education) and 300 from local government education (public schools).
Leisure and hospitality was the bigger gainer for the month with 3,700 new jobs, seasonally unadjusted, and 2,900 with the adjustment. The combined education and health services sector added 3,200 jobs with 1,700 in health and 1,500 in education. Professional and business services added 800 jobs year-over-year.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rural Counties Lose 1,400 jobs

The January 2016 to January 2017 net job performance for New Mexico’s four metro areas was 2,300 more wage jobs. Albuquerque and Las Cruces respectively added 3,800 and 800 jobs. Farmington lost 1,800 and Santa Fe 500. The state added a net of 900 jobs, meaning that the 26 rural counties lost 1,400 jobs (2,300 minus 900 = 1,400).
Eight states lost jobs for the period. New Mexico had the lowest growth that was still positive. As has been reported, New Mexico led the nation with a 6.7% unemployment rate.
The Department of Workforce Solutions released the January job report yesterday. The new numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
Monthly job performance usually gets little attention due to seasonal changes. The year-over-year performance indicates the trend.
From December 2016 to January 2017, the state lost 19,400 jobs, 1,300 more than the 18,800 dropped from December 2015 to January 2016. For the year just past, the state’s 900-job increase represents a slight reversal from the 1,800 jobs lost between January 2015 and January 2016.
Mining gained 200 jobs between December 2016 to January 2017. Finance and wholesale trade show no change. Every other sector lost, “led” by retail trade with post-holiday layoffs causing a 3,900-job decline. Professional and business services was the largest other private sector loser, down 1,200 jobs.
State government education was also down 3,900 jobs for the month, presumably also holiday related. Local government education—the public schools—dropped 3,000 jobs. For the year, government employment increased in Albuquerque, led by 300 more feds, and showed modest losses in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington. Translated, the rural counties took the main hit.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Winter Continues for Abq Home Sales

Fewer single family detached homes have sold in metro Albuquerque of the few months and they took longer to sell. The standard winter slump? No doubt, mostly? But the average number of days that a home is on the market has risen steadily from 54 last November to 66 in February. The February average days figure was nine days less than the 75 days needed for a sale in February 2015. Some good news lurks.
February saw the sale closed for 633 detached homes, down 29 from January and down 39, or 5.8%, from January 2016. The 633 sales were 68% of the 937 sales pending during January, a relatively low proportion.
The 28 days of February masked a performance improvement from January. During February an average of 22.6 homes sold each day. During January, average sales per day were 21.4. Both figures were well down from December when 28.2 homes sold each day, even with all the holiday disruption.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the February sales report today. See gaar.com.
The median sales price was $186,500 during February. The average price was $223,104. Both figures were up just over 6.5% from February 2016. The average price has increased about 10% from February 2015.
Pending sales were 1,059 during February, a 12% increase from a year before. Pending sales were 770 in December and 937 in January.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Supporting GRT Reform

This essay ran as a "guest column" in the Albuquerque.The essay supports the comprehensive reform of New Mexico's gross receipts tax that is House Bill 412 in the current legislature. My column in support f HB 412 run in New Mexico News Services subscribing newspapers the week of March 6 and then will be posted at nmopinions.com. - HM

By Brian McDonald / Economic Consultant, Albuquerque and Chuck Wellborn / Retired Lawyer, Albuquerque
Albuquerque Journal, Friday, February 24th, 2017 at 12:02am
A pending bill in the Legislature, HB 412, seeks to bring badly needed reform to the state’s gross receipts tax by removing ill-considered deductions and exemptions, thereby expanding the GRT tax base and enabling the GRT tax rate to be reduced. The latter is a well-recognized principle of state taxation – tax a broad base of economic activity at a low tax rate.

One aspect of this bill that should be widely embraced is in fact one of its most controversial provisions. That is re-imposing GRT on food – though at a reduced rate.
There are more reasons to support the tax on food than many know:
⋄ It’s not at all clear that exempting food from GRT actually benefits the poor,
⋄ The benefits of the food tax exemption flow almost entirely to the non-poor,
⋄ The food tax break is a primary contributor to our current fiscal woes, reducing tax revenues by more than $200 million each year,
⋄ These lost revenues are desperately needed for public education, early childhood development and Medicaid, which do benefit the poor, and
⋄ Lost GRT tax revenue on food sales has forced cities and counties to increase their GRT rates on non-food items such as utilities and clothing, further burdening the poor.
Opponents of reinstating the food tax say that even though the poor get federal SNAP (food stamp) assistance, SNAP assistance only provides a portion of their food needs. Co-author Brian McDonald, a Ph.D. economist who headed UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research until his retirement, points to data that raises serious questions about this premise.
In fiscal 2015, SNAP assistance totaling $685.2 million went to 205,540 New Mexico households, with each household receiving $3,333 per year on average. By federal law, SNAP benefits have never been subject to GRT. The 2004 legislation eliminating food from the GRT tax base therefore provided little tax relief to the poor in New Mexico. New Mexico SNAP recipients today receive GRT tax benefits totaling $47.96 million – assuming a 7 percent GRT tax rate – by virtue of this federal exemption, not the 2004 New Mexico legislation exempting food.
How does the $3,333 in SNAP assistance each household received compare to the annual food purchases of similar households?
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey data for that year show that the lowest 10 percent of households in the United States by income spent $2,566 on “food at home” – the closest data concept to the New Mexico GRT tax base on food. The second lowest 10 percent of households by income spent $2,432 on food at home.
Extrapolating this data to New Mexico’s poor, the lowest 20 percent of households are receiving SNAP benefits, which typically cover most or all of their expenditures on food and which are not subject to GRT taxation by federal law. Under HB 412, these $685.2 million in food purchases by the poor will still be exempt from GRT.
The lower GRT tax rate proposed by HB 412 will give the poor in New Mexico real tax relief on their non-food purchases such as utilities, clothing, food consumed at restaurants and school supplies. Arguably, the poor in New Mexico will pay more GRT if HB 214 excludes food from the tax base because the GRT tax rate will have to be increased in order to generate the same level of tax collections with a smaller tax base.

Monday, February 13, 2017

January Home Sales Up 5.6% from Year Ago

January usually is the slowest month of the year for home sales. “Improvement,” therefore, is relative. But for January 2017, improvement it was, according to the January sales report released Friday by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
The sale of 662 single family detached homes closed during January. That was 35 more than January 2015 and a 5.6% improvement. In keeping with the seasonal trends, the January closed sales were 213 units or 24% less than December.
Pending sales went the other way with a 22% increase over December. It was 937 sales pending for January, up from 770 in December. The January pending performance beat January 2015 by 135 sales, or 16.8%. The heavy pending figure from January suggests robust closed sales for February.
Closing sales during January took longer by three days than during December. The 62 day average time on market was first month the average sales period was over 60 days since March 2016. The sales period has been as low as 49 days.
Pries were increased during January from a year ago but dropped from December. The $185,000 December median price beat January 2015 by 7.2%, or $12,500 but was $5,000 down from December. The average price, $218,488 in January, dropped almost $4,000 from December to the same level as November and October. The January 2015 average was 3.1% less than a year later.
The inventory of homes for sale, 2,889 during January, remains about 20% less than a year earlier.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Unemployment Rate Drops in Mississippi, Not in NM

Activity in New Mexico’s employment sectors churned in December but ended the month with a gain of 100 jobs. Government, mining and construction took care of losing 2,600 jobs. Private sector service sectors added 2,700 jobs to provide the 100 job gain, which, the Department of Workforce Solutions said was a “neutral percentage growth.”
Over the year, as reported last week, the state gained 2,400 jobs, bringing the wage job total to 835,400. New Mexico’s 6.6% unemployment rate was second place nationally behind Alaska. Mississippi, the nation’s unemployment leader at 6.8% in December 2015, reported 5.6% unemployed in December 2016.
For the month, leisure and hospitality led the growers with 900 new wage jobs, followed by professional and business services (+800) and education and health services (+500).
The numbers are in the DWS newsletter, Labor Market Review, which was released this afternoon. The numbers discussed here are not seasonally adjusted.
The three smaller metro areas—Las Cruces (+400), Farmington (+300) and Santa Fe (-200)—combined for a net gain of 500 jobs during 2016. The only big number among the three was 1,200 new education and health services jobs in Las Cruces, which offset the gain with 400 fewer jobs in both government and manufacturing. For Santa Fe, it was plus 100 here, minus 100 there, among the sectors.

Friday, January 20, 2017

December Job Growth is 0.3%

There are statistics and there are revised statistics. Revisions in the November job statistics turned the 2,500 job loss into a 900 job gain. No job should appear in the New Mexico Mudville as the new gain translates to 0.1%, a sum that could disappear in the blink of a statistician’s eye.
For December, the numbers released today report a 2,400-job increase from December 2015 to December 2016 to move the December 2016 wage job total to 835,400. The gain was 0.3%. Remember though, all is preliminary.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6%, down a hair from 6.7% in November and the same as December 2015.
The state’s Department of Workforce Solutions released the December job report today.
Education and health services (EHS), driven by Medicaid, continued as the state’s fastest growing sector with 5,700 new wage jobs, year over year. EHS has led sector job growth for 2.5 years, DWS said.
Professional and business services (+2,400 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (+1,400 jobs) continued as the second and third fastest growing sectors.
Year over year jobs losses in mining (oil and gas) have eased. From December 2015 to December 2016 it was 5,000 fewer jobs.
Manufacturing dropped another 800 jobs over the year to now employ 26,500 people.
Retail didn’t have much of a holiday season if employment is the measure. Retail trade employed 93,700 in December, marking a 2,800 job loss for the year.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Martinez Administration Tax Cuts Posted

January 14, 2017
Blog Readers: The bills listed below are those behind the Martinez administration’s oft stated brag of having cut taxes 37 times. My column for publication January 16 to 20 discusses the cuts and concludes there is less to the claim than meets the eye. My column is posted at nmopinions.com after publication week.
The notes with the bill numbers are mine. Chris Sanchez only sent bill numbers and the year of passage.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 369 from 2012, showed no tax cuts. Let’s generous and assume the administration make a typo in compiling the bill numbers. – Harold Morgan

TO: Chrisj.Sanchez3@state.nm.us

12/20/16
Chris: My weekly column goes to nine community newspapers around the state. At the lunch today (12/20/16) of the legislative outlook conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, Keith Gardner said, “We’ve cut taxes 37 times.” Please send me the list of those tax cuts. Please also include the session, bill number and estimated revenue impact.
Thank you. - Harold Morgan

Was unable to access fiscal impact report. Thus, do not have the forgone revenue from these cuts.

A number of these “cuts” were extensions of previously enacted tax credits or gross receipts exemptions. Others raised the amount of sales required for a tax to be charged. Taxes tended to be very narrowly focused.

12/22/16
Chrisj.Sanchez3@state.nm.us
Hey Harold. Here you go:

2011 HB 273 Trivial. limiting the research and development small business tax credit and extending it until 2015.

2011 HB 437 More than trivial. Possibly discriminates against rural counties? A property tax exemption for veteran’s organizations.
2011 HB 440 an “advanced energy deduction” and a gross receipts and compensating tax deduction to encourage the construction and development of qualified generating facilities to sequester or control carbon dioxide emissions. Hugely speculative. Amounts potentially very large.

2011 HB 523;SB 179 a gross receipts deduction for locomotive fuel. This might be called the Union Pacific bill. A deal breaker, it was called, with regard to UP constructing its rail yard near Santa teresa. . It was also an extension of a ill passed several years before.
2011 SB 84 Extending the gross receipts and compensation tax deduction for gross receipts on fuel specially prepared and sold for use in turboprop or jet-type engines. Appears to be a very narrow interest.

2011 SB 282
2012 HB 184 – two deductions
2012 HB 184
2012 HB 10
2012 HB 116
2012 HB 123
2012 SB 32
2012 SB 369 – No cut. Just definitions.
2013 HB 106
2013 HB 641 – Film and more.
2013 HB 641
2013 SB 14 – Extending tax credit.
2013 SB 81 – Increases and decreases beer tax.
2013 SB 116 – Increases wine tax rate, increases volume limit, cuts tax amount.
2013 SB 160
2014 HB24
2014 HB14
2014 SB88
2014 HB32
2014 HB288 – Biofuels.
2014 SB106
2015 SB279
2015 SB302
2015 SB448
2015 SB506
2015, (special session) HB2 Tax package. It dealt with a hodgepodge including the angel investment tax credit, medical care expenses, selling stuff to companies dealing with thee Department of Defense, and refunding the petroleum products loading fee. (What is the petroleum products loading fee? Why do we have it?)
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2
2015, special HB2

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Abq Home Sales Continue Month-Over-Month Growth. Las Cruces Sales Strong in 2016.

January 12, 2017

Summarizing 2016 for sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque: More homes sold and sold faster for a bit more money.
Total 2016 single family sales were 11,021, plus 781, or 7.6%, from 2015. On average the homes sold in 55 days, nine days, or 14%, faster than 2016. The median price, $187,500, was up 4.5% from 2015 and the average price, $222,115, was up 4.1%.
The December results continued the trend of the year.
The sale of 875 homes closed during December. That was 30 homes, 3.6%, more than December 2016 and 77 homes, or ten percent, more than November. The December closing even beat October in defiance of the seasonal expectation of steadily declining sales during the fall as it gets colder.
The year closed with the sale of 770 homes pending, seasonally down 110, or 13%, from November, but 205, or 36% ahead of November 2016. A correlation of closed sales in one month with pending sales the previous month has been argued here, with a maximum of 90% of pending sales closed the following month. If any correlation exists, the relationship changed in December when the 875 closed sale were just five fewer than 880 sales pending during November.
The strong year-over-year increase of pending sales suggests a strong performance for closed sales during January (strong for January, anyway).
The homes sold in an average of 59 days, six days, or 7.8%, faster than December 2015. The average sales period for November and October was 54 days.
December’s median sales price was $190,000, a nice 8.6% increase from $175,000 during December 2015. The September median price was $195,000 with $189,000 during October and $185,000 for November.
The average price for December, $222,112, increased 7.8% or about $6,000 from December 2015. Average prices were flat at just under $219,000 during November and October. August and September saw average prices around $227,000.
In Las Cruces, according to the Sun-News, sales were “1,682 new and existing homes, townhomes and condominiums in 2016, making it the best production year since 2007, when 1,877 residential sales were booked. The all-time best year on record was 2006, when 2,303 homes changed hands.” The 2016 sales included 175 new homes.”
Single family detached homes “accounted for 1,405 of the total number of sales and brought an average price of $180,439, which was just $184 higher than 2015’s average price of $180,255. The homes took an average of 96-days to sell,” the Sun-News January 12 story said.