Friday, May 24, 2013

New Mexico's Great Growth Story Begins To End; State Population Ebbs As Greener Pastures Beckon Job Seekers  

Is New Mexico's 100 year old great growth story over? It's one of the questions we'll ponder as we head to the hammock and pool this Memorial Day weekend.

The answer seems to be that the "Great" part is indeed history. The jackrabbit like jumps in population growth that we've seen here in the post WWII era may not be seen again for decades--or at least not until the next big thing comes along. Right now, the exits continued to be more jammed than the entrances. The latest:

Lea County, in...New Mexico's bustling oil patch, was the fastest-growing county in the state last year, while two-thirds of the counties lost population, according to the Census Bureau. With New Mexico's economy still weak, the statewide population increased by a meager 0.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. All of the growth came from births, because more people left New Mexico than moved into the state, according to the...latest population estimates. "I am very disturbed about this," said Jack Baker, the state demographer...at UNM "What worries me most is that now we're looking very negative on migration. That's the first time we've seen that in 20 years."

Maybe those 7,000 who applied for jobs at the ABQ Uptown Target store in January or the 6,400 who more recently went looking for work at the new Downs at ABQ racino will have better luck down in Lea County where the ongoing bull market in oil prices is creating worker and housing shortages.

There is a problem, though. We wonder how, for example, a 28 year old female secretary or a mild-mannered 40 year old sales clerk is going to be trained to work in the rough and tumble oil fields.

Growth prospects in New Mexico in the coming years remain nebulous. If oil prices come down someday--as they invariably will--that will hit us hard--as it did in the 80's. But this time it will be even tougher because the other leg of the state economic stool--massive federal spending--is being sawed away at.

Ten years ago the news that 47 civilians were being laid off at Kirtland Air Force Base would have been met with cries of anguish from the state's congressional delegation and business establishment. Today there is quiet acceptance of this news that was barely noticed.

A sizable number of New Mexicans have never been big fans of the great growth story. After a century of waiting, they are finally getting their way.


About that SurveyUSA poll conducted for KOB-TV last week that showed Governor Martinez scoring a 72% approval rating in Bernalillo County. Other pollsters we consulted said that number seems too high in the state's largest county which leans Dem. They say the automatic phone poll did some over sampling among Republicans. They say ironing out the over sampling would give the Guv a statewide approval rating of 60%--not the 66%--SurveyUSA asserts. Still, that's nothing to sneeze at and SurveyUSA did catch the current trend which is the main task of a poll.


How many state Senators are going to say they are "considering" a run for the '14 Dem nod for Governor? We only know the list keeps growing. Add Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez to the name dropper list. Unlike House members, Senators are not up for re-election next year and can look around at other races without possible opponents holding them accountable....

Thanks for stopping by this week. Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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