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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Election: Gary King and Amendment One

Two factors explain the New Mexico election to me. First is the weakness of Gary King as a candidate. A decent man to be sure, a terrible candidate. No dynamic whatsoever. The outcome is much less that Gov. Martinez “won.” It is that Gary King had to win, to convince voters he was a good alternative. That didn’t happen. He lost.
The second factor is that Republicans, acting against decades of habitual incompetence, did some things right. They found legislative candidates who could walk and chew gum at the same time. They trained the candidates and got them some money. Unlike the governor’s race, voters had a real choice in the key legislative districts and, to a fair they degree, chose the Republicans.
The New Mexico precedent is in the efforts that brought conservation coalitions of around 1980 and with GOPAC nationally around 1990. Likewise the down-ballot candidates were competent. Three won: Diana Duran reelected Secretary of State, Aubrey Dunn elected Land Commissioner, Miles Hanisee to the Court of Appeals. Rick Lopez, an entirely obscure government manager, was surprisingly (to me)competitive for State Treasurer.
Allen Weh at least got Tom Udall’s attention. But Weh is even older than Udall, disqualifying him from being a fresh face. Voters are used to Udall. Udall is an old shoe. I remember a September email from the Weh campaign that said it was time to start drawing the contrast with Udall. Well, no, it was much too late. Still, Weh made a substantial effort and for that he is to be commended.
According to the Secretary of State’s tabulation constitution amendment one that would have changed school board election dates got 57.6% of the vote. It failed, however, due to once again tripping over the constitution’s “unamendable” requirement of 75% approval. A similar proposal a few years was just shy of the 75%. The Albuquerque Journal reported November 5 that the amendment was successful.
The mystery is the lack of a campaign for the amendment from sponsors Senators Michael Sanchez and Daniel Ivey-Soto. They knew about the 75% requirement. Why did they even bother with proposing the amendment?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rural Areas Growing, Urban Areas Not

What is happening in the New Mexico economy that is positive is happening in the rural counties. The conclusion comes from the detail on the September job figures released last Friday, October 24, by the Department of Workforce Solutions. (Yes, I’m late in passing this along. Oh, well…)
Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Farmington conspired to drop 2,700 wage jobs between September 2013 and September 2014. Las Cruces added 100 jobs during the year, which really doesn’t count.
Statewide there were 6,400 more wage jobs over the year. The rural counties had to add 9,100 jobs to overcome the urban losses and get to the annual addition.
Among the sectors, statewide, education and health services has resumed its status as leading expanding area by number with 4,500 new wage jobs, year over year, for a 3.6% increase. With 128,400 jobs for September, education and health services is the state’s largest employer group with a 31,300 job, or 32%, lead over the declining professional and business services group which dropped another 1,300 jobs September to September.
Finance was the growth leader by percentage increase with 6.9% more jobs and a sector job total of 35,600. Mining and logging, pretty much meaning oil and gas, grew by 6.1% over the year to 27,300 jobs.
Retail added 1,900 jobs to total 93,100, no mystery given that all the new jobs were in rural counties. Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces lost 600 retail jobs for the year.
Manufacturing was the leading loser sector for the year, down 2,300 jobs with 900 of the losses, or 39%, coming in Albuquerque which has 60% of the state’s manufacturing jobs.
Government lost 1,800 jobs over the year with 1,400 job losses in local government. Local government in metro Albuquerque dropped 200 jobs with no change in Santa Fe and Las Cruces. That means that the rural counties plus Farmington lost 1,200 local government jobs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

September Jobs Report: Fewer Seeking Work, More Working

Fewer people were looking for work in New Mexico during September as compared to September 2013, but more were working which meant the unemployment rate went down. That lower rate—6.6% down from 7.2% in September 2013—got the first attention in this morning’s news release from the Department of Workforce Solutions.
DWS attention then moved to the year-over-year increase of 6,400 wage jobs, or 0.8%.
Compared to other states, New Mexico’s September job performance, neither year-over-year nor between August and September, did not stand out, meaning the changes were not statistically significant.
On a seasonally unadjusted basis, New Mexico’s labor force went from 924,400 in September 2013 to 918,700 in September 2014. That drop of 5,700 was a 0.62% decline.
Our neighbors did better. Colorado, with less than three times the number of New Mexico’s wage jobs, added more than ten times the number of jobs, year over year (a seasonally adjusted 67,400 as compared to 6,400). Arizona, home to 2.6 million wage jobs in September or 112,700 jobs, “only” added 51,600 jobs for the year or just eight times the New Mexico total.
Selected positive sector performance, courtesy of DWS, is education and health services (+4,500); finance (+2,300); retail (+1,900); mining (+1,600); information (+800). Selected sectors losing jobs are manufacturing (-2,300); government (-1,800); professional and business services (-1,300).
The retail performance adds to the mystery of the state economy. Expanding retail suggests that people have more money to spend and that suggests increased employment. It will be interesting next week when the metro numbers are released to see the source of the retail improvement. Metro or rural?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pending Sales Increase for First Time in a Year

During September, pending sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque increased 10.9% from September 2013. There real news here is that this is first year-over-year increase since September 2013.
September pending sales of 854 homes did drop by three from August, but this can be attributed to the seasonal slowing as school has started and we head into cooler months.
Townhouse and condo pending sales showed a nice 30-unit or 58% jump from September 2013, the second year-over-year increase of 2014.
Closed sales during September maybe didn’t quite go off a cliff, but the 703 sales were 14%, or 119 homes fewer than the 822 homes sold during August. The 2014 peak for closed sales came in July with 823 homes sold. Pending sales peaked in May at 996.
Prices, both median and average dropped both from August 2013 and from July.
The average sales price, $208,936 during September, was the lowest since March. The average price was $7,212 lower, or 3%, than August and down 1.6% from September 2013. The median price was $175,000, a level last seen in April.
The price peak for 2014 came in July for both median and average prices.
The homes that sold during September were on the market an average of 65 days, the same as August and two days more than September 2013.
During September, 82% of August’s 857 pending sales turning into closed sales. For August, 83% of July’s 986 pending sales became closed.

Friday, September 26, 2014

NM Economy No Longer the Worst; Rural Counties Gain

The Department of Workforce Solutions didn’t quite let the work week end before sending out the detailed August job figures in the Labor Market Review newsletter. But DWS was close. The email came out at 4:51 P.M.
No wonder. Much exists to avoid. Three of the four metro areas lost wage jobs in the year August 2013 to August 2014. Las Cruces showed no change with Albuquerque down 600, Santa Fe down 900, and Farmington dropping 1,000 jobs or 2.1%. The metro job loss total was 2,500.
The state gained 4,600 jobs, year over year, 0.6% increase. That means the rural counties gained 7,100 jobs.
This stellar mediocrity bumped the state into a tied for 40th in job production among the states. Toot the horns; no longer the worst. Nebraska, New Hampshire and Ohio tied our job creation standard.
Among the sectors statewide, the critical manufacturing sector continued to disappear, down month-leading 3,000 jobs to 26,900. Professional and business services dropped 2,400 jobs with government down 800. The losses concentrated among the feds, down 1,000.
Education and health services added 6,100 jobs (shades of five years ago, DWS noted) with another 2,200 in finance. Mining, meaning mostly oil and gas, added 1,400 jobs.
To get to the loss of 600 jobs, Albuquerque got rid of 1,400 jobs in professional and business services and 1,000 in manufacturing.
Just noticed the DWS is called the regions “Workforce Investment Areas.” Bleah.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wage Jobs Increase, Labor Force Decreases

The headline item will be that New Mexico led the nation in percentage terms in adding wage jobs between July and August. The 0.6%, or 4,600 job, increase was on a seasonally adjusted basis. Wage jobs increased in 35 states, said the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released the monthly jobs report today. Over the year from August 2013 to August 2014, again for wage jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the increase was even better—a 5,500 job increase to 817,300 wage jobs.
Take away the seasonal adjustment and the wage job report remains decent, at least for New Mexico. Over the August to August year, jobs increased 4,600, or 0.6%, to 814,800. The monthly increase was 7,700 jobs or almost (gasp!) one percent.
The happy news ends.
Go to “employment,” the other measure of the number of people working or looking for work, and the story is different.
All four of the numbers for employment showed declines in August. That is to say, employment in August was lower, or a seasonally adjusted basis, than in July 2014 (-1,500) and in August 2013 (-2,700). The figures also were lower without the seasonal adjustment.
Continuing erosion of the labor force appears to explain much of the change. Fewer people appear to be working or looking for work, which is the definition of the labor force.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Home Sales Drift Down

During August the metro Albuquerque real estate market continued drifting gently down as compared to 2013. The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the August sales report yesterday.
Closed sales of single family detached homes, 822 during August, were down both from July and from August 2013. Sales were down only one unit from the 823 closed sales during July, but the performance broke a seven month string of month over month sales increases. Sales were down 35, or 4.1%, from August 2013, continuing the year-over-year sales declines that have characterized 2014.
The 857 sales pending during August represented a double decline. Pending sales were down 29 August 2013 and 129, or 13.1%, from July, indicated a further drop in closed sales for September.
The average price for homes closed during August was $216,148, incorporating the contribution toward raising the average from three homes sold in the $1 million and over group. The average price was down from both July and from August 2013.
The median price was $184,100 for August. The figure was down from July but up $1,600 from August 2013. The price group from $200,000 to $249,000 was the most popular during August with 134 homes sold. However, at $49,000, that group is wider than other price categories. If combined, the two next lower price groups accounted for 143 sales during the month. The two groups are from $160,000 to $179,000 and from $180,000 to $199,000. These two cover a $39,000 spread.
Home sales took an average of 65 days to close during August. That was five days longer than during July 2014 and August 2014.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gary King Incredibly Disappointing

I have always thought of Gary King as a decent guy, not someone I would for barring the Republican being an idiot, but decent. That’s over. I have also felt that King’s long quest to be elected governor and follow his dad, Gov. Bruce, was a little strange.
This morning’s Albuquerque Journal brings news that King is deeply into parochialism that is one of New Mexico’s big problems.
That’s my take on King’s remark at a Belen Fundraiser that Gov. Susana Martinez “does not have a Latino heart.” The remark is in a brief video published yesterday on the web site of the conservative magazine, “The Weekly Standard.”
Find the video at: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/nm-dem-says-gop-guv-martinez-does-not-have-latino-heart_804671.html.
Just one of King's many missed points is that Martinez represents the majority of New Mexico Hispanics. She is a generation or two out of Mexico. The people who have been in the state and proudly proclaim that accident makes them better people, they are the minority. This is as of the 2000 census.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Minnesota Road Sign

The sign said, “Concentrate on Driving.” It was on U.S. 52 distracting drivers heading southeast from Minneapolis to Rochester.
In the same vein, our rental Camry had a disclaimer on the dashboard screen warning drivers that looking at the screen could be dangerous.