Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Big Story Of 2014? Our Incredible Shrinking New Mexico 

The big story of 2014 in the Land of Enchantment was the same as it has been for several years--our difficult and seemingly inexorable change from a booming Sun Belt state to one of quiet drift and one with fewer New Mexicans. This final story--coming as we prepare to ring out the old and ring in the new--tells the tale:

New Mexico is one of six states that lost population from July of last year to July of 2014. 1,323 people left the state during that time, coming on the heels of a loss of 8,809 residents in the preceding 12 months. . . The Census Bureau says New Mexico had an out-migration of 9,750 people from April 2010 to July 2013.

We've lost our Mojo. No wonder U-Haul has just opened a new ABQ location. There's plenty of outgoing business.

Hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans live fulfilling lives with good jobs. The state is not about to be sucked into a black hole. But opportunity is shrinking and people continue to flee. They will continue to do so if they can't make a decent living here. It's as simple and as sad as that.

And it is those with good educations and the means to leave who are doing so. It means 2015 and beyond will see the state grow older and less educated.

The new incredible shrinking New Mexico stares at you from all corners.

---The city of ABQ will ask voters in 2015 to approve only $115 million in bonds for general improvements, down from $160 million before the Great Stagnation took hold.

---The state trims its revenue estimates for the next budget year with more trimming coming in the weeks ahead.

---Confusion reigns as to just how much federal money for the defense and national energy establishment is now coming into the state, but it isn't growing. We know that.

---Outside business continues to shun the state because while we have plenty of workers, they are too often ill-prepared.

--Another foot is about to drop on the jobs front as SE NM is embraced by the bear market with crashing oil prices. Hundreds, if not thousands, could lose their jobs in the months ahead.

The continuous and transformational change of the state's economic underpinnings is the top story of New Mexico for 2014, making for the top challenge--and opportunity--for 2015.

Happy New Year, New Mexico!

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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