Monday, April 15, 2013

Back On The Econ Beat: Our Trip To The New Target And The City Jobs Crisis, Plus: Where Are The Bankers? And: Follow-Up On Susana's $10k Taos Fund-Raising Retreat  

It's difficult to label it a "jobs crisis." After all, securing gainful employment in ABQ has never been easy. It's why we lose so many of our best and brightest 20 and thirty somethings. But it's never been like this.

We stopped by the new Target department store at ABQ Uptown recently to take a look around at the place where earlier this year --incredibly--7,000 ABQ area residents applied for work at a three day job fair.

 One of the new employees told us that Target ended up hiring 228 workers--only one out of the 30 who had applied. The kicker was the young man's hourly salary. He told us he was only making $9 an hour and happy to be getting it.

Most of the workers we saw busily staffing the store were in their 20's. Perhaps this was one of several jobs they had or they attend UNM or CNM and their Target employment is a bridge to a new and improved life.

But we know for many of them who stay in ABQ the ending will be similar to the beginning. They will struggle to make ends meet.

We know that because of the very fact that it is a Target that has located at the state's premier shopping district--not a Nordstrom's or even a new Dillard's. ABQ, despite a metro population of over 900,000 can't support "uptown" tastes.Wages remain low and job creation nil.

The news that the President proposed a flat budget for Sandia Labs--one of the chief economic engines for the city (and state)--was celebrated. But we need growth. Stagnant budgets in city government, the labs and the private sector are not going to create jobs for the nearly 6,800 individuals that Target did not hire.

The story for ABQ's new generation of youth remains the same--look for opportunity here but always have one foot out the door. If you do stay, you may have to settle for a slot lower on the economic ladder than you like. For many of those who do hang on, family life becomes central.

The city is mostly bereft of  the young, single (and monied) professional class that began emerging in the 90's when Intel launched a major expansion and fueled economic activity across the board. The jobs went away and so did they. We don't need statistics to tell us that. At the Uptown Target--the heart of New Mexico retail--they do not stock regular milk by the quart--only the family-sized half gallons and


That United Van Lines study released earlier this year placing New Mexico among the top five states that folks are leaving was such a shocker for a Sun Belt state like ours that some questioned its accuracy. but population and job growth numbers confirm the stagnation. And so does this. A new U-Haul survery of the "Top 50 Destination Cities" is out and no New Mexico cities are on the list. Houston and Orlando top the list. Albuquerque neighbor Tucson comes in at #22. And another neighbor--Colorado Springs--is 34th among the top 50 places U-Haul says people are headed for.


The long bear market has scorched the state banking industry. It is a shell of its former self, having suffered closures, scandals, consolidations and lost business. That leads reader Joe Craig to ruminate about the buisness leadership the banking community provided in the past and the lack of it in this new eraa;

I've been working on refinancing an investment property and realized that I don't have a banker anymore. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are both out of state. Charter Bank got squished by the Feds. I finally connected with my credit union, New Mexico Educators Federal CU. They are stepping up and have a small business division.

I don't see our bankers out leading our community efforts anymore. I don't see the bankers out at ABQ Economic Development or NAIOP or other organizations that they once were prominent in. Where are the presidents of the banks saying we should watch and nurture our main industry in NM, the National Labs? Gone to Phoenix or San Francisco? 

I think the issue is our politicians are driving our politics. No wonder we are stagnating.

Thanks, Joe. Big NM banking names from the past--Ike Kalangis, Larry Williard and Bing Grady--to name a few--are long gone from the scene--replaced by mostly the nameless and faceless whose connection to the community is tenuous at best and at worst nonexistent.

There is an exception--the Independent Community Bankers Association haded up by Jerry walker and consisting of members from mainly outside the big metro.


The newspaper picked up on the story we broke here about that $10,000 a pop fund-raiser Governor Martinez is having in the form of a luxurious April 26-27 weekend retreat at the El Monte Sagrado Resort in Taos, but the paper reports it is "$10,000 a couple." However, the invitation that was sent out and that we posted on last Thursday's blog said nothing about couples. It simply states "$10,000."

Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey is not directly quoted in the news article as saying it was "per couple." He says: "A lot of these individuals are people who will be kind of core supporters of the campaign..."

Maybe the campaign is letting couples attend for the $10,000 price, but that is not what the invite says.

New Mexico campaign law allows an individuals to contribute $5,200 to the primary campaign of a statewide candidate and another $5,200 for the general election campaign. Attendees who give that amount at the Taos event will be doing what insiders call "maxing out" in their direct donations to the Guv's campaign. However, The Guv has a political action committee and if they like they can give more money to "Susana PAC."


The state Democratic Party saw an opening with Susana's $10k party and came with this dig:

While you and I are cleaning up the yard or taking the kids to soccer practice, Susana will be tucked away at an exclusive weekend retreat in Taos with her high dollar donors. Minimum ticket price: $10,000. There's hardly a better way to summarize this administration: veto a one dollar increase in the minimum wage one day--denying hard-working New Mexicans even a little help in their struggle to get by--and announce a $10,000 a pop resort weekend getaway the next.


Republicans in Taos (yes, there are still some up there) were not too happy about Susana's high-dollar party. They said they learned about it when they read about on the blog. Gorden Lukesh wrote from Taos:

Gov Martinez will hold a $10K retreat in Taos at El Monte. She did not contact the Taos GOP. We will hold forth at the bar.

Sounds good, Gordon, but we don't think your martini will be on the house.


It appears ABQ Dem State Senator Linda Lopez is gearing up for a run for the 2014 Dem Guv nomination. Las Cruces area Dem State Sen. William Soules posted this on his Twitter account Sunday:

(Governor) Martinez will not be the only Latina running for Gov. Sen Lopez is running. Only one truly cares about NM and New Mexicans.

Attorney General Gary King is announced for the nomination. Las Cruces are State Sen. Joe Cervantes is weighing a run. Lopez ran unsuccessfully for the Dem nod for Lt. Governor in 2010.


The first thing we thought of when we spotted this was: "And UNM wants to run Sandia National Labs? Good luck with that." The news:

The University of New Mexico regents’ meeting Tuesday was so chaotic and confusing that even now, regents don’t agree about what they voted on. The disagreement involves changes to UNM’s retiree health benefits program...

Well, let the Regents have their fun in the campus playpen--just don't let them near the nukes.

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