Monday, April 18, 2016
A Failed State? Economic Minefields Continue To Explode Across The State As Intel Layoff Announcement Looms; Crime And Education Stats Spread More Gloom And Doom; The News And The Analysis Is Up Next
It's as if New Mexico has become an economic booby trap. Everywhere you step another minefield explodes.
--In the southeast it's the oil and gas price crash threatening to plunge the region into recession--if it's not already there--and acting like a Boa constrictor on the state's budget.
--In the south Las Cruces is still stuck in a recession that began over a year ago.
--In the southwest Luna County unemployment is threatening the 20% mark and layoffs hit the mining industry in Grant County.
--In Alamogordo they are preparing for a deep recession in a couple of years as the German Air Force announces nearly 500 military and civilian employees are heading home as the Germans end their decades-long training mission at Holloman Air Force Base.
--In the west Peabody Coal announces bankruptcy, shaking up over 300 employees near Grants whose futures are uncertain.
--In the Four Corners the economy has been in a near decade long slump because of the energy crash.
--In the north budget shrinking at Los Alamos Labs ($2.242 billion in FY 12; less than $2.2 billion in FY 15) cramps the region's economy. And Santa Fe continues to be punished and miniaturized by the new and not improved tourism market.
-- In the ABQ metro we're preparing for what may be the biggest minefield explosion of them all--the possible shuttering of what is left of the once giant Intel manufacturing plant in Rio Rancho. The computer chip maker is expected to announce layoffs tomorrow. It's only a question of how bad we get hurt, not whether we're hit.
Intel has shed thousands of employees here in recent years--it had 5,300 in 2005--and is now down to 2,300 at what is clearly an antiquated plant that the company decided was not worth retrofitting.
A complete shutdown in one fell swoop played out over a short time frame would be an economic shock of historic consequence. We'll soon know, but whatever the decision the Rio Rancho housing and retail market better brace itself--and so should ABQ. 2,300 employees plus hundreds of well-paid contractors losing their jobs or threatened with job loss would cast a very long shadow indeed.
We hear occasional chirps from beneath the rubble from the likes of businessman and sometimes politico Alan Webber in Santa Fe who has argued for an array of economic development concepts. Then there's Innovate ABQ which looks good on paper but skeptics await results.
But as the minefields continue to explode the political leadership--he Governor, the Legislature as well as the business community--seem to lack the will and/or inclination to advance the bold, big ideas necessary to give the state a chance against the immense economic forces now aligned against it. Reader Davis Lee sums it up this way:
It occurs to me that our governor is a pretty face that no one is taking too seriously--kind of like our state with pretty sunsets that no one is taking too seriously.
The remaking of the New Mexican economy in the 21st century. It's the big story and about to get a whole lot bigger. Stay tuned.
The always busy crime beat is certainly not helping the city and state get back their glamour and attract and keep young talent. Take a look:
The latest crime numbers for Albuquerque show police struggling to keep up with criminals--something that is difficult to do with dwindling officer numbers. . . For the first six months of 2015 (the state reports) some alarming increases in certain crimes over 2014. The biggest increases were in murders, robberies and car thefts. . . Also alarming in the report: two years ago, the average APD response time for Priority One calls was 10.5 minutes. That moved up to 11 minutes in 2014, and the latest numbers show the time increased another half-minute, to 11.5 minutes.
With a weak economy comes lower incomes and that means lower high school graduation rates. The news:
New Mexico schools had an overall graduation rate of about 68.6 percent for 2014-15 — down from about 69.3 percent in 2013-14. The number lags behind the most recent national statistic available, which shows an all-time high of 82 percent for 2013-14. The downward trend in New Mexico also contrasts a national trend of rising graduation numbers.
The economic implosion, the ongoing crime wave and the education crisis are signs of a failed state. Only a call for accountability from our elected leaders of all political persuasions will begin the long process of a turnaround. So far, that call has not been made.
THE BOTTOM LINES
The Bernie Sanders campaign announces it will send staffers to New Mexico at the end of the month for our June 7th primary. Hillary Clinton is also expected to have paid staff here soon. New Mexico Dems will send 43 delegates to the national convention. . . Longtime ABQ businessman and prominent Republican Bud Dziak says he is supporting Donald Trump in the state's GOP presidential primary. Dziak, who is in the insurance business, says he is raising money for Trump. He tells us: "We are raising money to fund an incredible effort for the GOP National Convention like you have never seen before."
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016