Economy and Job Creation
When the stampede for acreage in the Delaware Basin began in 2016, many across southern New Mexico had already given up on the state’s oil patch and left for jobs elsewhere. Despite a steady recovery, the previous two years of free-falling prices clearly took a toll on the local economy. Eighteen months later, New Mexico is firmly at the center of a broader national comeback by the oil and gas industry. Last year, New Mexican output was nearly 470,000 barrels a day, up 17 percent from the previous year and more than doubling since 2011. New Mexicans haven’t seen an upswing in output like that since the 1960s. The revival of the state’s oil sector has brought new employment and investment opportunities. Those opportunities are increasingly among the oilfield service companies that handle the drilling and day-to-day operational activities for the big producers.
(Part 4 in a 4 part series) Government work. That’s the past and present of the New Mexico jobs story. So, what’s the future of that story? In the short term, health care looks likely to boom, along with the hospitality industry and education. But what about the jobs that aren’t in the Land of Enchantment yet, the ones that might bring the state’s stubbornly high unemployment rate closer to parity with the national average? While it is difficult to quantify an intangible, there are educated opinions on what might narrow the current jobs gap. New types of technology may bring job types to the state that aren’t here now. More mid-level careers could bolster a market already represented on the higher and lower ends. And getting significant numbers of people to relocate to New Mexico to make up for the young people who leave because they perceive a lack of opportunity would generate additional long-term jobs in existing categories like construction and health care.
President Trump issued an executive order Tuesday encouraging federal agencies to adopt more-stringent work requirements for various welfare programs. What can Congress do to encourage work? Two possibilities are increasing the minimum wage and expanding the earned-income tax credit. My recent research shows that these two policies can have very different, and perhaps unintended, effects on the ability to become economically self-sufficient over time.
Carenet Healthcare Services, a Texas-based health care support company, is expanding to Albuquerque with plans for 244 jobs over the next five years. The San Antonio-based firm will also invest $3 million in the former Bank of America building at 303 Roma NW. The sum includes a 10-year lease, tenant improvements, furniture, fixtures and equipment, according to information provided by Albuquerque Economic Development Inc. Gov. Susana Martinez, at a news conference Tuesday, called the Carenet announcement a “positive result of the reforms implemented to grow and diversify our economy.”
New Mexico’s year-long construction boom has pushed the state to top national rankings for employment growth in the industry. The state’s 9.7 percent seasonally adjusted increase in construction jobs between January of this year and the same month a year ago was tied with Nevada for No. 3 in the nation, according to the Associated General Contractors. The top two states for percentage growth over that period were West Virginia, at 14 percent, followed by California at 9.8 percent, the contractors’ association said. Among the reasons for the New Mexico boom is the continuing work on the Facebook project in Los Lunas, where the social media giant is building a data center. The company announced in November that it was tripling the original size of the project and would build a total of six buildings.
Albuquerque ranked No. 8 on LendingTree’s list of the best cities for new small businesses released Feb. 27. The rankings were based on self-reported data from new small businesses in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Rankings were based on profitability and annual revenue. Researchers scaled the two factors to 100, added them and divided by two, for a highest possible score of 100 and a lowest possible score of zero.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that the federal government can intervene in a water case pitting Texas against New Mexico and Colorado, meaning the case will be sent back to a “special master” to arbitrate the dispute. The opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, said the federal government must be allowed to meet its federal water obligations – including an international agreement with Mexico – and actions that would go against the decades-old Rio Grande Compact would hinder that duty. The 1938 Rio Grande Compact governs the distribution of water in the Rio Grande Basin.
The retail shop Gallery One on Central Avenue is closing, adding yet another set of darkened windows to the busy commercial street. “We’re going to close in late February,” said Rick Johnston, whose late mother, Beverly Johnston, ran the Nob Hill store for 31 of its 46 years.
The Sandoval County Commission adopted a “right-to-work” ordinance early Friday to loud applause, despite the threat of a lawsuit from an opponent and an opinion from the state’s attorney general that the measure is illegal. The ordinance, approved 3-1 with one abstention, prevents employees from being compelled to join a union or paying union fees. Supporters say right-to-work legislation promotes economic development; opponents say it undermines unions and lead to worse conditions for workers.
New Mexico is not a contender. Amazon, which is on the hunt for a second home, said Thursday that it narrowed its choices to 20 locations from the 238 proposals it received, and neither of New Mexico’s applicants made the list. Both Albuquerque and Doña Ana County submitted proposals for the project, however, Amazon also made clear in that it wanted tax breaks, grants and any other incentives. Many of those incentives are not offered in NM due to laws currently in place.