New Mexico was the only Southwestern state to show a high departure rate; Texas and Colorado were among the top 10 “moved to” states. Oregon won the prize for “most moved to” state, according to the study. South Carolina, Florida and Vermont were also popular places to move to.
Earlier this year Albuquerque Business First published “Gone for Good,” a series of articles featuring interviews with New Mexicans who had just left the state or were planning to leave. The most common complaints focused on high corporate taxes and the increasing crime rate in Albuquerque. But that’s only part of it.
New Mexico has some of the highest income inequality in the country — with some of the widest gaps between wealthy residents, the middle classes and those living in poverty. Inequality is one category in which New Mexico has consistently occupied the top spot. There are huge racial and ethnic disparities in employment and income here.
The last five years have seen an upsurge in the use of food stamps and Medicaid in the state; welfare numbers have remained fairly constant.
New Mexico’s pathetic job market has a lot to do with these figures. Following four decades in the top 15 states for job growth, we’ve currently fallen to 48th. That’s a pretty damning indicator of how little the current regime cares about creating jobs. And the majority of workers in New Mexico get no holiday pay, no overtime, no sick pay or workers’ comp.
Albuquerque’s once-booming economy is now seriously lagging behind the national average, according to a presentation given last month by Lee A. Reynis, director of UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Reynis is one of New Mexico’s leading economists.
“In the good years, growing employment masked many serious problems,” he explained.
These problems include the extremely high poverty levels in the state, low wages and low per-capita income. Reynis’ research showed that the number of part-time jobs as opposed to full-time employment virtually doubled from 2007-12. Albuquerque has lost thousands of full-time jobs over the past decade.
All of these factors contribute to growing inequality in New Mexico.
A similarly unequal trend is apparent with regard to education in the state. The gap between the top and the bottom is huge: New Mexico ranks in the top five for population of Ph.D. holders, but in the bottom 10 for those with only a bachelor’s degree or higher. Perhaps even more ominous is the fact that New Mexico relies heavily on the public sector for revenue — and ultimately on the increasingly unreliable and capricious federal government. The total share of jobs sustained by federal contracts is higher in New Mexico than any other state. Given the recent trend toward massive spending cuts, this is an untenable position.
To help alleviate this problem, Gov. Susana Martinez is promoting the odious ‘right to work’ agenda. She has spearheaded attacks against collective bargaining in the public sector, advancing legislation designed to prevent unions from collecting dues from the workers they represent.
Another reason people aren’t exactly flocking to Albuquerque may be the unremitting embarrassment and disgrace the police department has brought upon the city. Following a 16-month investigation, a Department of Justice investigation determined that Albuquerque Police Department officers routinely violated the Constitutional rights of citizens. The charges included unwarranted beatings, illegal use of tasers and unnecessary use of lethal force.
“Officers were not justified under federal law in using deadly force in the majority of those incidents,” the report concluded.
The scathing 46-page report accused APD of deeply rooted leadership problems that led to the unconstitutional use of deadly force against residents: “... police officers shot and killed civilians who did not pose an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death to the officers or others.”
Albuquerque District Attorney Kari Brandenburg recently announced she is pursuing criminal charges against two former cops for murder. The men will face first-degree murder charges for last year’s shooting of 38-year old James Boyd, a homeless man who was camping in the Sandias.
No one had been charged in connection with any of the city’s fatal shootings until Brandenburg sought the indictments. She has already received death threats for her trouble.
Most of the students I meet at UNM say they do not intend to stay in New Mexico after graduation, and that includes the natives. UNM is a bargain compared to other sizeable institutions, but there is no incentive for these kids to remain in the state once they receive their degrees. They can get much better pay for the same skills in neighboring states.
Who’s going to stop them?