Economy and Job Creation
Fter several years of in a housing slump, the ABQ housing market will end the 2017 on a high note, according to the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors. The association said there were 11,477 single-family home sales in 2017, a nearly 7 percent increase over the previous year. The median house price rose almost 4 percent, reaching $196,900.
In 2008, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation and irrigation districts in Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso signed a new agreement to share water during droughts. But soon after, New Mexico sued Texas, claiming it was losing too much water under the deal. Then in 2013, Texas filed its own lawsuit, saying New Mexico was allowing its residents to overpump groundwater connected to the river. This is the case that’s headed to the Supreme Court on January 8.
Christmas brought a new lump of coal-fired headaches to San Juan County. Two of the four generating units at the San Juan Generating Station near Farmington permanently closed just before the holidays. That long-awaited shutdown marks the first stab in Public Service Company of New Mexico’s plan to completely shutter its 50-year-old coal-fired facility by 2022 to comply with environmental regulations and transition its electric production to more modern, sustainable technologies.
With San Juan’s gradual shutdown, plus closure of three generating units in 2013 at the nearby Four Corners Power Plant, local government and business leaders are under pressure to build employment opportunities for the area’s energy-related workforce, long dependent on coal mining, utility jobs and natural gas production. It’s a double whammy to San Juan’s fossil-fuel industries, creating a perfect storm that’s rippling across the region’s economy.
When the price of oil collapsed in 2014 and disrupted drilling operations all across Texas’ massive Permian Basin shale formation, truckers were among those hardest hit. Rendered unnecessary by the slump in output, they were fired in scores. Now, with oil prices inching back higher and production in the Permian — which extends into New Mexico — soaring once again, the drillers want the truckers back. The feeling, though, isn’t mutual. The pain of the 2014 bust remains fresh for many who went on to find driving gigs in other industries and who worry that companies will remain tightfisted with pay as they re-hire.
New Mexico still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures released Friday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the state’s November jobless rate was 6.1 percent, the same as October. A year ago, it was 6.7 percent. New Mexico’s unemployment was higher than all other states except Alaska, which continued to have the country’s worst unemployment rate at 7.2 percent. The District of Columbia’s rate, 6.4 percent, was between that of New Mexico and Alaska.
The Labor Department releases its November employment report Friday. Economists surveyed by the Journal expect employers added 195,000 jobs and see the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.1%
The state has missed out on some great employment opportunitues because other competitors had a "larger labor pool," as was the case in April when Hulu announced it had chosen San Antonio as the winner of one of its new facilities. Others, like Tesla Motors, chose to plunk its $5 billion gigafactory in Nevada over New Mexico because the former offered $1.3 billion in tax incentives. Mayor Richard Berry previously told Albuquerque Business First the city was willing to add up to $30 million of its own money to help land the factory, which will create 16,000 jobs.
With New Mexico’s decades-old reliance on massive coal-fired generating plants winding down, Public Service Company of New Mexico is facing a prolonged battle with local groups over the future of the state’s electric grid. The company filed a new “integrated resource plan,” or IRP, with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission last summer that calls for shutting down the San Juan Generating Station near Farmington by 2022, and pulling out of the nearby Four Corners Power Plant by 2031. It proposes replacing nearly 700 megawatts of lost coal-fired generation from those plants with a lot more natural gas, nuclear power and renewables like solar and wind.
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions will be hosting the 2017 New Mexico Workforce Conference focused on the day-to-day efforts necessary to create and sustain a ready and able workforce to respond to the wide variety of occupations available throughout the state. Participants will learn about the partnerships, resources and tools available to enhance opportunities and inspire innovation to meet the unique challenges of New Mexico's job seekers and businesses. For more infomation on this event visit https://www.dws.state.nm.us/2017NMWorkforceConference