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 ( 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 for more.

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