Saturday, April 11, 2015

The New Hampshire Presidential Campaign

New Hampshire correspondent Kathy Morgan has called attention a continuing feature at WMUR TV in Manchester, New Hampshire. The feature is a series of conversations with actual and potential presidential candidates. A few days ago it was Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The format is a half hour in two segments, one an interview by the anchor, the other questions from the audience. A “web feature” follows. Go to http://www.wmur.com/politics.
There is enough time and the format is sufficiently relaxed to get acquainted with the individual.
Also, one finds the newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader, at http://www.unionleader.com.
It seems that for the 2016 race, technology will bring us in the fly-over hinterland a chance to make a more intelligent choice.
If you see a worthy candidate on WMUR,options for active support would seem to be sending money and/or calling the respective New Mexico party headquarters to find the NM contact.
Our correspondent is ably assisted by Christopher Phelps Johnson, age five months, one day, as of this writing.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Abq Homes Sale Up 19% from March 2014

More homes sold in metro Albuquerque for more money than in months and months, according to the March sales report released today by the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
March closed sales of 827 single family detached homes were 49%, or 273 homes, more than February (March does have three more selling days than February) and 19% more than March 2014. The March sales were the highest since the sale of 857 homes closed during August 2013.
During March the number of pending sales jumped 20% from February to 1,102 and showed a 16% increase over February 2014. February pending sales also increased 16% over the previous year. Of the 921 pending sales during February, 90% turned into closed sales during March.
Average prices increased 5.5% during March to $210,069, pushed along by the sale closing for four homes in the $1 million-plus category. Sales increased in 10 of the 12 price groups about the $100,000 threshold. Sales were the same as March at 21 homes in the $500,000 - $749,000 group and dropped one—from three to two—in the $750,000 to $999,000 group.
The median price increased $6,000, or 4%, to $175,000 during March. The $175,000 median price is the highest March median since 2010.
The absorption rate has been below 5.5 months since December, indicating a better than average market. The supply-demand ration has dropped by half to 3.33 since December, meaning a tightening of supply relative to demand.

Friday, April 3, 2015

State Job Improvement Continues

The statistically re-benchmarked performance of the New Mexico economy continues, according to the new Labor Market Review newsletter released today, April 3, by the Department of Workforce Solutions.
The best news is in Albuquerque and Farmington. For the year between February 2014 and February 2015, 15,900 new wage jobs appeared on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The number of wage jobs increased 10,400 between January and February.
Albuquerque led the metro pack with 6,700 jobs, year over year. That was a net of 7,100 private sector jobs and a loss 400 government jobs with state government gains of 400 offsetting local government losing 700 jobs.
Farmington was the other big metro winner with 2,800 new wage jobs over the year, 2,500 of them in the private sectors.
Santa Fe didn’t badly with 1,100 new jobs even with the loss of 400 construction jobs.
Nothing much happened in Las Cruces during the year. The metro lost 200 jobs, split between the private guys and government.
Statewide and in Albuquerque the sectors with the biggest job growth were professional and business services, education and health services and leisure and hospitality. In Albuquerque, the three sectors added 6,100 jobs, year over year. Statewide the three added 10,400 jobs.
All these figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Job Growth “Statistically Significant”

Those 10,200 new jobs mentioned yesterday as appearing between January 2014 and January 2015 were not seasonally adjusted. I forgot to mention that. I also forgot to say that between December and January, the seasonally unadjusted figures show a loss of 16,500 jobs. That’s a lot. Not explanation from DWS.
In its release yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed New Mexico’s 12,900 seasonally adjusted new jobs, year over year, as being statistically significant, that means the jobs are real, maybe. The seasonally adjusted change between December and January was an increase of 1,500, a shift of 18,000 from the unadjusted figure, or, quite an adjustment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Statistical Shuffle Improves Job Picture

Everything that was said about job performance and non-performance in New Mexico was wrong. Or at least all that stuff about months and months of job losses is out of date now. That’s because the federal Bureau of Labors Statistics and New Mexico’s Department of Workforce Solutions changes the rules once each year.
DWS in its March 17 release “explained” the changes this way. “Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics realigns the sample-based estimates of the CES survey to incorporate universe counts of employment—a process known as benchmarking.”
As an example of the changes, readers may remember the year over year changes in the finance sector of well over 1,000 jobs. When this “growth” was reported each month, the report here came with skeptical note. The problem, as I see it, is that the sector is too small to support such growth without something radical happening such as a new and large employer. For sure, banks, the largest employer in finance, aren’t adding people except to do Dodd-Frank required compliance.
Guess what, guys, with the bench newly marked, as it were, the finance sector showed a gain of 300 jobs, or less than one percent, between January 2014 and January 2015.
The new numbers show professional and business services, considered a key proxy for national laboratory activity, showed 1,700 new jobs, year over year. Education and health services led the sector pack with 4,700 new jobs, or 3.7%, which was about 39% an (unlikely to me) of the year’s total job gain of 10,200 jobs.
Government dropped 1,200 jobs, 500 from the feds and 600 from local government. State government, buoyed by 1,100 new education jobs (in universities), lost just 100.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Clinton Email Logistics Are Confusing

I do not understand the logistics of the emails. Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State for approximately 1,461 days (the years 2010, 2011, 2012 plus ten months of 2009 and two months of 2013). The 31,830 private emails averaged 21.8/day, plus nearly that many for business. Call it 40 total/day. Assume Mrs. Clinton sleeps four hours/day, leaving 20 hours for everything else including emails (at an average of two emails/hour all day every day) and meetings with foreign ministers. Some of the business emails would have been complicated and would have required some thought and some time—multiple drafts and staff debate—in creating the reply. To be sure, threads with multiple emails would account for some of the total, but how many? I presume that Mrs. Clinton was not the person at the keyboard entering the reply. (Does she type?)
From my perch in the wilds of New Mexico, it appears that she had to have some help in managing this process. How did that work? What was the decision process with regard to eliminating the personal emails? Highlight all and hit delete?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Abq Homes Sales Up 17 During February.

Pending sales provided the only news for February sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque. February saw 921 homes move into the pending sales category, a 66 unit, or 8% increase from January. The performance beat February 2014 by 128 units or 16%.
The only other February happening was the sale of homes closing at a 2.5 home/day faster pace than during January. February sales averaged 19.8 homes/day as compared to January’s 17.3 homes/day. This daily activity meant that 554 homes closed during February, which was three days shorter than January, beat January by 17 homes or 3%.
The February 2015 homes closed performance of 554 homes edged January by four homes or 0.73%.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the February sales report today.
No only did more homes sell each day during February, they sold faster. Homes sold during January were on the market an average of 81 days. During February, homes took an average of 71 days to sell.
Nothing much happened to home prices during February.
The little that happened to prices during February happened to average prices which dropped 2.1% from January to $199,196. This was up $713 from February 2014. Median prices were $195,000, the same and February 2014 and down $500 from January 2015.
During January there were 855 sales pending. Almost two-thirds (65%) turned into closed sales during February. Some months show up to 89% of pending sales turning into closed sales.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Energy:The Dallas Fed View

From the Beige Book of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Released March 4. See http://www.dallasfed.org/research/beige/2015/bb150304.cfm
Energy:

"Demand for oilfield services fell sharply in the Eleventh District. Declines were concentrated in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford regions, and contacts reported a pullback in both horizontal and traditional vertical drilling. Outlooks remain pessimistic and uncertain, with firms expecting a roughly 30 percent decline in capital expenditures this year."

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.