Friday, July 25, 2014

Abq Breaks Bad

Find this news at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-vice-capitals-of-america-2014-07-25.

The report said, "...according to an analysis by DrugAbuse.com of words mentioned in more than 450,000 tweets that were “geo-tagged” in cities with a population of at least 200,000. DrugAbuse.com is a site that provides resources and treatment on drug addiction...Albuquerque, N.M., was named the vice capital for crystal meth..."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pending Home Sales Down from 2013

With the delay in getting the monthly metro Albuquerque real estate report posted (the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the report July 10; sorry ‘bout that), I will limit the report to noting that pending sales of single family detached homes have been down on a year-over-year basis for all six months of 2014 as compared to 2013.
Closed sales have been down for three months. There were 800 closed sales during June, up three from May but 59 units, or 6.9%, behind June 2013.
The homes that closed during June were n the market an average of 60 days, the quickest sales period of 2014.
As compared to 2013, average and median prices have increase as compared to 2013 for five of the six months of 2014.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Job Numbers Up and Down: Ambiguity Appears

That the New Mexico job (non)production situation is not quite the nation’s worst is the takeaway from the job numbers for June released this afternoon. Ambiguously bad might be a good description. By the seasonally adjusted figures for June 2013 to June 2014 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico can claim being the nation’s third worst state economy with a loss of 400 wage jobs or less than 0.5%. Alaska, down 0.7% seasonally adjusted, led the nation, followed by Vermont, down 0.1% and then New Mexico. From May into June, Alaska again led, minus 1.7%, with West Virginia, at minus 1.2%. New Mexico and New Hampshire followed, tied with a 0.6% job loss.
The ambiguity came with the seasonally unadjusted numbers. Here New Mexico gained 2,500 job on the June-to-June basis.
The release from the Department of Workforce Solutions heralded this, saying “growth (in) positive territory for the first time in nine months.”
The DWS release continued the annoying administration policy of tucking reality under the rug by not mentioning the seasonally adjusted/not adjusted distinction. Nor, no surprise, did DWS mention the state performance comparisons.
A few sector figures: Seasonally adjusted manufacturing continued the sector’s disappearing act, down another 2,200 jobs, with the much larger professional and business services sector down 1,000.
Going to the seasonally unadjusted performances, mining added 1,700 jobs, finance continued the mystery growth with 1,700 more and jobs and government dropped 3,200 jobs.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tennis and Tesla

All of 0.17% of New Mexico homes come with a tennis court, according to Trulia.com. Vermont has the most courts, tennis wise with 0.77%. The mention was in today’s Wall Street Journal, page M 12. I could not find the report at trulia.com.
Being electric, Tesla cars need things into which to plug. That much should be generally known. I hadn’t thought much about the details until seeing these stations this week at the Marriott TownePlace Suites hotel in Farmington. Hotel staff said the stations were installed last fall and have drawn traffic, as it were. The staff said Tesla drivers have stayed at the TownePlace specifically because of the electrical availability.
Tesla calls the stations “superchargers.” The only other New Mexico location, according to teslamotors.com/supercharger is at a Hampton Inn in Gallup.
Clever.
Hotel management did not respond to my email inquiry for more details.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Not Quite the Worst Economy, But Close

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

Abq Journal Op-Ed, 6/16/14

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

6/4/14

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

By Rep. Jimmie Hall and Harold Morgan

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

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





Friday, June 13, 2014

Filming Returns. So does Uncompensated Individual Subsidy.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Abq April Job Losses Behind Only Detroit

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

Metro Abq Closed Sales Up During May; Pending Sales Down

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

Sunday, May 25, 2014

“New Mexico A History” More Than Imperfect

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

Bibliographies and Footnotes Part of History Books

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

Friday, May 23, 2014

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

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Stagnation is Regional: Abq Beats El Paso and Tucson

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

NM Economy: Holding as Nation's Worst

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

April Home Sales Nudge Up, Prices Up More

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