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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Death Spiral Continues: NM Has Worst Jobless Rate In USA; Stagnant Population And Leadership, Plus: Retirees Wanted (Or Not)  

The death spiral continues and now even Mississippi can't save us. New Mexico has the highest rate of unemployment in the USA:

The state’s rate was 6.7 percent in January, compared to 6.6 percent in December and 6.5 percent in January 2016. The national rate was 4.8 percent.

Much of the pain is hidden way from the cities as the oil field and rural areas are slammed with something akin to a second Great Depression. But it's no bed of roses in the ABQ metro either as the best and brightest continue to flee, leaving behind an even more under prepared workforce and a state increasingly unattractive to businesses looking to expand.

The state's myriad of ills has been well-documented here. The jobless report reminds us that this death spiral can't be stopped or even contained without transformative leadership. However, with the potential agents of change leaving the state--the young and educated--we are faced with an aging population and stagnant leadership.

For example, how long have the heads of the ABQ Chamber of Commerce, the ABQ water utility and the executive VP of UNM been in those jobs? A long, long time. There is very little turnover in the plum posts that pay over $100k a year. There is nowhere for them to go, and generating new ideas is not conducive to their status quo.

The jobless news isn't the only thing casting a pall over these final hours of the legislative session. The price of oil has plunged below $50 a barrel for the first time in three months. Lawmakers scurrying to get out of Santa Fe will keep their blinders on to that news. But it's a grim reminder that the new state budget could be built on a bed of sand--yet again.

HISTORY MAKING

There was much made of the return of ailing Rep. Jim Trujillo to the House floor last week to cast a vote for the proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters to approve spending money from the state's Land Grant Permanent School Fund for very early childhood programs. And Trujillo's momentary return after heart surgery was indeed poignant. But it's not what history will remember.

Yet again that amendment is stuck in the state senate and unable to find its way to a floor vote. There's over $15 billion in the Permanent Fund. Historians will footnote Rep. Trujillo's appearance, but it could well be the failure of that amendment that will cause them to scratch their heads and to write of why we didn't even use a small portion of our largess to reverse the death spiral we left to future generations.

TRUTH SQUAD

Let's truth squad the story on population stagnation. You see the fact thrown around that ABQ's population grew by 24 percent between 2005 and 2015, but the vast majority of that growth was in the earlier part of of the decade:

The Albuquerque metro area’s population grew by a measly 0.27 percent in the year that ended July 1, 2015, the second-worst performance of 10 major metro areas in the region, according the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, the four-county area continued to suffer a so-called “brain drain,” posting a net outmigration of 1,552 people, meaning that many more people left the area than came here. The area’s population grew by 2,399 people and was 903,502 as of July 1, 2015, the Census Bureau said.

For many environmentalists the growth slowdown is welcome news. The problem is many of them can't find work to stay here and enjoy it.

RETIREES WANTED

Reader Cheryl Haaker writes in response to reader Jim McClure who wrote of the biz community's efforts to attract retirees. He did so with tongue in cheek as does Haaker:

Well, Mr. McClure's logic seems unassailable to me! Why do we want New Mexicans that require government services? (And who will become productive citizens one day?) Let's rake in all the old geezers and let the private sector (funded by the federal retirement system) take care of 'em? No more of this "Land of Enchantment" nonsense, or "New Mexico True" (whatever that was supposed to mean). Now, it'll be:

--Make New Mexico your final destination!
--New Mexico! A great place to live, a great place to die!
--Future passing you by? Don't understand your grandkids anymore? Go to New Mexico, where it's always 1920!
--Quiet, remote, untouched by industrial or commercial commotion - New Mexico!
--Our taxes are low - because we know you don't need much. And you won't have to support those young slackers anymore!

The copy just writes itself, although the cynicism does, too...

THE BOTTOM LINES

Reader Steve Snyder writes of the legislature considering making La Marcha de los Novios the official state song:

Isn't making a wedding polka the state song in a state with a below-average marriage rate and above-average divorce rate ironic at a minimum and hypocritical at the most?

Here is a video of the song.

Journalist and blog reader Daniel Libit, who has been putting UNM athletics under his spotlight, writes:

Hi Joe, I’m suing the UNM Foundation, claiming they are a public entity pretending to be otherwise.


No pretending around here. This is it. . .

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