Thursday, February 12, 2015

Nusenda Doesn’t Send(a) Me

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

January Real Estate Follows 2014 Pattern

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

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Another Reason For Skipping School Elections: Distance to the Polls

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

Friday, January 30, 2015

State Loses Education Jobs During November

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jobs Down From November, Up From December 2013

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Abq Homes Sales Up In December, Down For 2014

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Oil, Gas Exploration Cut

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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Falling Oil Prices to Hit NM

New Mexico will take the fifth ranking hit from falling oil prices, according to a report from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-states-most-hurt-by-falling-oil-prices-2015-01-08?dist=afterbell.

"New Mexico

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

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

Friday, December 26, 2014

Turnaround Time? All Four Metros Gain Jobs Again

Turnaround time: All four of the metro areas showed job increases from November 2013 to November 2014. This followed all four metro areas gaining job between October 2013 and October 2014. The Department of Workforce Solutions released the figures around noon today. The metro areas growth rates were well below the statewide wage job increase of 1.7%, but at least the metros were in positive percentage territory. It’s been a while.
The state job growth ties for 24th with the District of Columbia, big jump from the performance earlier in the year when New Mexico was last and losing jobs, gaining the title of the nation’s worst economy. For the November to November year, Alaska was the biggest loser at minus 0.3 percent followed by Mississippi at minus 0.1.
The 2,900 new wage jobs in Albuquerque, DWS said, represent “the largest of only four months of year-over-year growth for Albuquerque over the last 15 months." Education and health services was the big Albuquerque gainer with 2,400 new jobs, year over year, accounting for 83% of the metro increase. Retail trade, with 1,000 new jobs, was the other big gainer. The losers continued performing down to expectations: Manufacturing (-600), professional and business services (-500), construction (-300).
Of the smaller metro areas, Farmington was the November to November champ with 500 new jobs. Las Cruces and Santa Fe both added 300 jobs.
Las Cruces was the only metro area showing a drop in government employment with a 400-job loss split among the state and the feds.

Friday, December 19, 2014

November Job Growth "Statistically Significant"

New Mexico scored “statistical significance” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for both the October to November job increase of 4,000 and the 14,700 job year-over-year improvement. Both figures are seasonally adjusted. The job report was released this morning.
Withdraw the seasonal adjusting and the job increases become 14,100 for the year, or 1.7%, and 3,600 for the month.
Among the larger and / or important sectors, education and health services added 6,100 jobs, year-over year, mining (+2,100), retail (+1,900), holiday hiring perhaps, and finance (+1,400).
For November, the statewide unemployment rate was 6.4%. Two counties hang in there with unemployment rates greater than 10%. They are Luna (16.2%) and Mora (13.2%). Three counties have unemployment rates under 4%. They are Eddy (3.6%), Lea (3.7%) and Los Alamos (3.8%).
Two key basic-industry sectors were the losers from November 2013 to November 2014. Manufacturing dropped 1,500 jobs and professional and business services lost 400. Government chipped in with 600 fewer jobs, a decline shared by the feds, the state and the locals.
The year-over-year seasonally unadjusted preliminary job growth rate the past six months have been: October (1.1%), September (0.8%), August (0.6%), July (0.5%), June (0.3%) and May (0.1%).
Observers of such things happily observe that the state’s job growth is approaching the long term average. That’s the good news. The bad news, the reality, is the mediocre long term average growth of two percent or so.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

November Abq Homes Sales Up From November 2013

Metro Albuquerque sales of single family detached homes weren’t all that bad during November, given that it was November. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the figures yesterday.
But sales, 601 homes during November, did jump from the seasonal cliff with a 21%, or 157 unit, drop from October. The decline more than made up for the 55 home increase in sales during warm October over September. Coincidentally, sales dropped 157 homes in November 2013 from October 2013.
The good news about November’s 601 sales is that they represented a second month of year-over-year increase from 2013 after six months of year-over-year drop.
The 738 pending sales during November delivered a third consecutive monthly year-over-year increase after 11 months of decline.
The movement of pending sales to closing went slack in November as the 601 November sales were just 72% of the October pending sales. October closed sales (758) were 89% of the 854 September pending sales.
Both median and average prices showed a second month of year-over-year increase. However the median price, $175,000 during October and November, needs a $10,000 increase this month to match $185,000 median of December 2013. November’s average price of $215,899 was 3.8% ahead of November 2013 and needs a $4,000 increase to catch December 2013.
For the year, new listings peaked a 1,756 during May. Pending sales peaked at 996 during May and closed sales topped at 283 during July.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

NM Pensions Fund Investments In "Risky Assets"

New Mexico has 85% of its public pension fund investments in "risky assets" which means stocks, real estate, private equity and perhaps hedge funds, reported a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today. The article was by Andrew G. Biggs, identified as a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Biggs mentioned six states. New Mexico was the champion embracer of risky investments. The other states were California (75%), the Texas Teachers Plan (81%), Pennsylvania (82%), Illinois (75%), New York (72%).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Something New: All 4 Metros Add Jobs

The state’s four metro areas, all of them, added wage jobs during the year between October 2013 and October 2014, the Department of workforce Solutions reported yesterday.
The number of new jobs wasn’t large, just 1,200 among Albuquerque (+300), Las Cruces (+200), Santa Fe (+100) and Farmington (+600). Only Farmington managed a percentage increase above one with 1.2% growth. Hanging below a half percent were Albuquerque (+0.1%), Las Cruces (+0.3%) and Santa Fe (0.2%). For all four metros, job growth between September and October brought the area into positive job growth for the year.
Such tiny increases might conceal a rounding error or a figure within the job survey’s margin of error.
Still, it’s been a long time, memory says, since all four metros grew on a year-over-year basis.
The national economic performance may provide the best news for the state. That’s because the nation drives much of what happens in the state. During the third quarter, the gross domestic product grew at a 3.9% annual rate. Digging into the national performance, media wizards at the Wall Street Journal find no excitement, but a 2% plus growth rate provide little basis for real complaint.
The metro performance for the year meant the rural counties didn’t have to make up for metro losses to post a statewide increase, which was 9,100-jobs. The 26 rural counties added 7,900 jobs during the year.
New Mexico tied Idaho for 34th place among the states in job production performance. Alaska was the only state losing jobs during the year. New Mexico’s four neighboring states all finished in the top ten for job growth percentage. Texas was 2nd; Utah 3rd; Arizona 8th, and Colorado 9th.
Albuquerque’s growth came with education and health services (+1,800), aided by small increases in five sectors, offsetting losses in manufacturing (-1,000), construction (-700), leisure and hospitality, professional and business services and wholesale trade.
In Las Cruces, education and health services and professional and business services together brought 700 new jobs. Six sectors showed no growth in Santa Fe with the rest either up a bit or down a bit.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Job Growth Hits 1.1%. Woo Hoo!

Our year-over-year job growth rate rocketed to 1.1% in October. On a seasonally unadjusted basis, that’s 9,100 more wage jobs over the year between October 2013 and October 2014. Woo hoo!
Mining provided 1,700 of the new jobs, a 6.4% increase and the highest growth rate of the year, said the Department of Workforce Solutions in its release this morning. For October, mining also led the sectors in percentage growth for the year.
Nationally, said the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics in its release, “Regional and state unemployment rates were generally little changed in October.” New Mexico fit that pattern with a seasonally adjusted 6.5% unemployment rate in October, just barely better than the 6.6% in September and 6.8% in October 2013.
Education and health services, the largest “private” employment sector led numerical growth with 4,900 new jobs, year over year. The quotes around “private” come because my guess is that government pays for much (how much?) of the sector. Think Medicare.
E&HS had 129,300 jobs in October.
Finance continued its rapid grow with 2,000 jobs year over year, a 5.9% increase.
Government lost 200 jobs over the year with the losses among the feds. Local government added 200; the state lost 200. Total government jobs dropped below 30,000 to 29,800. Total government employment was 195,900 during October 2014.
Federal employment was 29,000 in March 2005 with total government jobs at 204,400.
Total government employment was 181,700 in October 1999 with the feds at 30,100. The increase since 1999 has come in local government.
Manufacturing continued its disappearing act, down 2,300 jobs of 7.7% for the year. Professional and business services dropped 1,000.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Home Sales Up in Oct., Defy Seasonal Trend

Sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque increased during October, defying the usual season trend of declining and the weather cools. Maybe it was the weather. The Duke City recorded the third warmest October in record keeping history, The Albuquerque Journal reported. The weather worm has turned, however. As this is written, it is 36 degrees in Albuquerque with a forecast low of 25.
Sales of 758 homes closed during October. That was up 55 units or 8% from September and 4.8% more than the 723 homes closed during October 2013. Closed sales had dropped on a year over year basis for six months.
Pending sales—831 for October—increased over October 2013. This marked the second year-over-year increase of 2014. September was the first.
The median price stayed at the September level—$175,000, which was up 5.4% from October 2013. The average sales price—$212,905— was up around two percent from September 2014 and October 2013.
Sales took at average of 66 days to close during October. That was up from 65 the previous two months and from 63 days during October 2013.