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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Post Labor Day Blues: Jobs Crisis Continues To Worsen; State & City Way Behind Nation; Where's The Debate? Recession Punishes New Mexicans While Politicos Play Ostrich, Plus: Big Bill Back For Campaign '12 

Posted to your left is everything you need to know about the flat-on-its back New Mexico and Albuquerque economies.

Every other state around us is experiencing year-over-year job growth--some significantly so like Oklahoma at 2.5% and Arizona at 2.4%. Our state remains in a jobs depression/recession with negative year-over-year job growth of -0.2 percent for the month of June. The city of ABQ is even worse, with negative growth of -1.1 percent. And so it has been for a number of years.

The political pressure has to build sometime, doesn't it? We are ranked at or near the bottom of the job growth charts in the entire USA--month after month and now year after year.

So far Republican Governor Martinez and Republican ABQ Mayor Richard Berry have been silent on this--the #1 issue facing the state--and their political opposition has been ineffective in placing much, if any, blame at their doorstep, even though Martinez took power January 1, 2011 and Berry on December 1, 2010.

The Martinez administration has announced an "economic summit" to try to show some involvement, while ABQ Mayor Berry continues to blame Washington for his city's economic woes. But if a fire is not lit under these leaders via a healthy political opposition that forces them to act, their popularity numbers will stay high and nothing much will get done. The feeble opposition makes it easy for blame--and responsibility--to be shifted elsewhere. It's not supposed to work that way.

By far this is the worst economy in the state and city in the post WWII era. Life-changing decisions are being made daily about selling or shuttering businesses, tax collections in the city can't keep pace with inflation or population growth and the state remains dangerously dependent on revenues from the oil industry. As we've blogged before, the worst ABQ commercial real estate crisis since the Great Depression has left acres of office space vacant. "Got Space" signs posted on them have become as
familiar as "Bienvenidos" placards.

And nothing it seems is being built--nothing.

The state and city economic development departments languish in a state of permanent siesta. Outside of some development on the southern border, ABQ and New Mexico have been dead money since late 2009.

This Governor and Legislature and this Mayor and City Council show all the energy and concern of a slug. They seem to think the jobs crisis will be solved when everyone who can't find a job has left the state or given up looking.

Now with the 2012 campaign fully upon us, will we have a sharp debate over our future here--or will ABQ and NM watch its top professionals slowly migrate away? Watch its best students flee? Stand by while even more federal jobs cuts are contemplated and then implemented?

We need debate and discussion--not denial. There are obviously no easy solutions but the head-in-the-sand approach to job creation around here by both the Republicans and Democrats would make an ostrich proud.

We desperately need leadership in the public, private and business sectors that will rise to the occasion. We are not getting it and until we do we are going to see plenty of more shocking charts like the one posted on today's blog.

HOW IMPORTANT?

Just to let you know we're not blowing smoke when we bleat about the massive economic impact Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories have on this state and city. The labs get about $4.6 billion in annual funding. And what is the gross revenue of New Mexico's top 100 private companies? Well, it's $4.6 billion. The Labs equal all the cash coming in for the top 100. Those private firms employ11,000. Sandia and Los Alamos employ some 20,000. And you can safely assume that a good chunk of that  "Private 100" revenue comes from the Feds.

BERRY'S BURDEN

He can continue to dismiss the dreary economic news exacting its toll on his city, but ABQ Richard Berry can't bury his head in the sand and wish reality away. Here's another brutal report about the economy that he looks out at from his 11th floor City Hall office:

With the loss of 2,200 construction jobs between July 2011 and July  2012, Albuquerque ranked 312th in construction employment among the  nation’s 337 markets, according to the latest report issued by the  Associated General Contractors of America. The Duke City has been among the nation’s construction laggards for several years. Albuquerque ended July with 19,200 construction jobs, a 10 percent  decline. Statewide, there was a total of 43,800 jobs, a drop of 1  percent in a year. The Duke City’s decline over that period is attributable to slowing  public sector work combined with an anemic private sector rebound.

Some of Berry's critics may start asking him (and Governor Martinez) why ABQ is looking so anemic when compared to Las Cruces. The news:

Based on McGraw-Hill Construction’s report on July contracts for  future construction, Las Cruces is the strongest market in New Mexico,  while Farmington is the softest. For the first seven months of 2012, Las Cruces had more than $180  million in construction contracts, a 44 percent gain. Farmington had a  34 percent drop. Nonresidential construction contracts gained 88 percent in Las Cruces  to $87.5 million, while in Farmington, nonresidential work dropped 50  percent.

We've said it for several years now and we'll say it again. The Bear Market in ABQ and New Mexico is changing the lives of hundreds of thousands. Before it is all over it will be as profound in its own way as the Great Depression was in the 30's.

RICHARDSON ON FACE

Here is yet another entry to drive the critics crazy who believe former Governor Big Bill Richardson ought to be wearing a ball and chain and sporting prison stripes. Here he is from this weekend discussing the Democratic National Convention at Charlotte on the venerable CBS broadcast "Face the Nation:"

...You're going to see this convention not appeal to the base, not have a bunch of nasty attacks. You're going to see a convention filled with promising young Hispanic speakers, you're going to see diversity, you're going to see multiculturalism. You're going to see a real effort to engage the middle class, engage the American worker, and say that we want to be positive about this country. We're not going to be a bunch of negativists. 

Richardson, always informed and articulate on politics, remains in good stead with the national media. The former congressman, governor, UN ambassador and energy secretary will be used by the Obama campaign to drum up support in the Hispanic community. His popularity remains higher out of state than in state.

The conservative press here continues to go apoplectic that Richardson is running around loose. His campaign cash for contracts administration is what drives them up the wall but now we're apparently seeing a repeat under the current administration. Downs at ABQ, anyone?

Here's a transcript of the CBS program and here's the video.

SENATE WATCH

Slip, sliding away. Another one joins the bunch. From DC pundit Stu Rothenberg on the NM Senate race featuring Dem Martin Heinrich and Republican Heather Wilson:

Republicans have a quality nominee in New Mexico but face a challenging political landscape. Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R) has a reputation as a moderate, but the race appears to be slipping away, according to multiple surveys. What once looked like an even match-up with Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) now looks like a significant lead for the Democrat, in a state that President Obama will likely carry in November. National Republicans appear to think so as well, as the NRSC pulled their ad reservations for the fall last week. 

It's not like she's giving up. Nor should she. Her Labor Day schedule:

I've been in Hatch at the Chile Fiesta. I was in Socorro for the county fair, up to Angel Fire yesterday, over at Wagon Mound for Bean Day and back down in Bernalillo and back in Albuquerque...so we have been all over the state.

The most appealing thing about Wilson in this era of austerity is her unabashed zeal for fighting for New Mexico's federal funding--and her leadership skills. She learned it from her mentor Senator Pete Domenici. Now she is in another of those fights for her political life. We fully expect her to go down fighting, if that's what it comes to.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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