Economy and Job Creation
With so many having learned to live off the government during the recession, combined with an increasing inability of workers to pass drug tests, employers are finding it difficult to find qualified workers to fill jobs. Productivity growth has been weak since the recession ended in 2009. It grew just 1.2 percent a year, on average, in the past decade. That’s less than half the growth rate before the recession. One reason productivity has been so sluggish is that companies haven’t invested much in machinery, technology and other equipment that could boost workers’ output. The result? October jobs report showed that pay gains remain sluggish, and the explanations include weak worker productivity and a still-low proportion of adults with jobs. These are long-running trends that still bedevil the economy despite its steady improvement.
-VIDEO- The city of Albuquerque is questioning whether the independent monitor overseeing police reform is fair, saying in a court motion that one of his staffers said the monitor has an “ax to grind” and that the monitor himself told police command staff in a recording that they were going to be “collateral damage.” Albuquerque police are in the midst of a years-long reform effort that was the result of a 2014 Department of Justice investigation that found Albuquerque police had a pattern of excessive force. Ginger was hired as the independent monitor who reviews the department’s performance and reports to U.S. District Judge Robert Brack, who is presiding over the process.
The number of people and businesses protesting their taxes has created “sizable risk” to New Mexico’s general operating budget, nonpartisan legislative analysts say. A report released Monday estimates that over $440 million in taxes are under protest now by taxpayers who have had their refunds denied or are otherwise challenging their tax bills. If even one-third of the protests prove successful, analysts said, the state’s general fund could take a hit of roughly $147 million, or about 2 percent of the $6.1 billion budget.
A bipartisan group of legislative leaders is warning the state Board of Finance that they don’t have authority to create a new tax district on Albuquerque’s West Side. That power they say, belongs to the legislature. The city of Albuquerque had already voted it's own tax district for the Lower Petroglyphs, with plans to bring desperately needed jobs to the West side in the form of a new hospital.
The most recent employment figures from the State of New Mexico. Under Republican leadership, New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in September 2017, down from 6.3 percent in August and 6.8 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate was 4.2 percent, down from 4.4 percent in August and 4.9 percent in September 2016.
New Mexico climbed to the No. 1 spot among U.S. states when comparing property crime rates last year, according to data released by the FBI on Monday. And it had the second highest rate for violent crime, following Alaska. Much of New Mexico’s reported crime is driven by Albuquerque, the state’s largest city. About 27 percent of the population calls Albuquerque home, but the city was home to 42.7 percent of violent crime and 47 percent of property crime in New Mexico.
A series of business friendly reforms and a “Fund of funds” initiated by Gov. Susana Martinez have transformed New Mexico into a growth leader and Facebook’s choice for its $500-million data center. Last year, New Mexico secured one of the most coveted economic development projects in the country when Los Lunas was chosen to be home to Facebook’s massive new data center, the social media giant’s seventh data hub in the U.S. The project is expected to employ more than 1,000 construction workers during the building phase and create more than 100 permanent new jobs. The second building at the site is expected to be completed in 2020.
In fiscal year 2017, New Mexico companies created 2,009 jobs from the state's Job Training Incentive Program, according to the New Mexico Economic Development Department. The NMEDD stated Monday that 57 companies from 11 different counties participated in JTIP in fiscal year 2017.
The state was once the fastest-growing in the nation. Now it's among the slowest. Experts say the loss of working-age residents and their children is worrisome because they are not optimistic the trend will reverse. If it doesn't, New Mexico's working age population – a huge tax base – could become so small that the state will struggle to fund its already cash-strapped government and companies will look elsewhere to expand.
New Mexico housing construction has fallen flat. Building permits for single-family homes, an indicator of future construction, have totaled 832 so far this year, according to DataTraq. Nearly 1,800 new-home permits were pulled last year in the metro; the number for 2015 was 1,645. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes. With more families and young people moving out of the New Mexico, how does that bode for future construction and job opportunities in the state?