Economy and Job Creation
Crime, homelessness and harrassment by recently released inmates are an increasing problem to businesses and job opportunities at both the city and state levels. To highlight the seriousness, and the irony of this report, a KOB van was stolen while the crew was covering the story.
Despite the highest unemployment rate in the nation, New Mexico has many job opportunities that employers are finding difficult to fill. Lack of education, job experience and a loss of prime working-age individuals combined with fear of losing welfare entitlements has led to a shrinking workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates were lower in April in 10 states, higher in one state and stable in 39 states and the District of Columbia. New Mexico and Alaska still hold the highest rates, respectively, at 6.7 and 6.6% while Colorado holds the lowest at 2.3%.
With many states relaxing laws on marijuana use, more U.S. workers are testing positive on pre-employment drug tests for marijuana and other illicit drugs. A study by Quest Diagnostics Inc. determined marijuana is the most commonly used drug among U.S. workers and was identified in 2.5% of all urine tests for the general workforce in 2016, up from 2.4% a year earlier.
As NM is returning to Santa Fe for a special session to fix the budget crisis, AZ’s legislators are going home after adopting a fiscal plan with tax hikes but also have bold reforms that will boost the quality of education and economic development. AZ also embraced deregulation as NM is still one of the most regulated states in the country, costing us jobs. Lastly, AZ has “Empowerment Scholarship Accounts” that give parents $5,600 to educate their children as they see fit, as the worst in the nation for education, NM should give this a try.
"Where do jobs come from?" asked Steve McKee, author of this editorial. Whether it's a young entrepreneur starting a new company, a small business looking to expand or a multinational company contemplating a new facility-- the answer is people making decisions in an unpredictable regulatory environment. That circumstance inhibits job creation.
New Mexico recorded a 3.4 percent increase in construction jobs between February and March — the largest percentage jump in the nation. The increase brought the number of construction jobs to 46,000 in the state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
New Mexico's trouble emerging from the Great Recession may have several explanations according to Jefferey Mitchell, director of the UNM Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Reductions in federal spending on the military, an inability for small businesses to get loans and a decline in migration to NM. In fact, most late 20s to early 30s college graduates are leaving the state for better opportunities.
Pete Domenici would like to be seen as someone who is hopeful about New Mexico and the nation. Despite his health issues, he is still well informed and quick to tick off a list of challenges facing the state and the need to address them.
“We’re not growing rapidly,” said Lee Reynis, director of the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research, which conducts the Journal’s twice-yearly Economy Watch review of economic conditions.“I’m not even sure we’re growing at 1 percent. But in my opinion, based on everything I look at, we are definitely on the positive side.”