New Mexico business, government leaders meet for economic summit
Posted at: 10/02/2012 4:47 PM
| Updated at: 10/02/2012 5:35 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico business and government leaders meet again. They are trying to come up with ways to turn around the trend of job losses and sidestep the threat or more losses to come.
Latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions show New Mexico losing a staggering 12,400 jobs from August of 2011 to August 31 of this year. At the same time, the federal government is preparing for a mandated combo punch of tax increases and spending cuts that could make as many as 20,000 federal jobs disappear from new Mexico in January.
Our state has lost about 20,000 construction jobs since the Great Recession first sank its fangs into us in 2008. Three-thousand of them disappeared in the 12 months from August to August.
Most economists said weak construction is a sign of a sick economy. It's no secret that jobs are hard to come by in New Mexico.
"You can't change it overnight or even in a year or two,' said warehouse worker Isaac Candelaria, who is taking his GED exam and hoping to learn a new trade at CNM. "It's gonna remain the same for awhile, I believe. Trying to get a job is still tough, even with some kind of a degree or something. it's still tough to find jobs."
That is why government and business leaders met at CNM's Job Training Center near I-25 and Alameda on Tuesday - another economic summit with an increasingly urgent mission because of those federal job cuts that could hit New Mexico and the nation as soon as January 2.
"We're at the edge of the fiscal cliff," said state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela. "We know that government cuts are coming to New Mexico. it's going to disproportionately hit our state. We have to prepare for the future. We have to do it immediately."
"We will see federal cuts,' said summit speaker Dale Dekker, an Albuquerque architect. "At least that's my opinion, and that will affect all businesses in the state. So now is the time to come together, to put all the ideas on the table, and we're going to have to do it as New Mexicans first."
That is what you hear over and over at these summits - put the politics away, let's tackle the problem together.
The sessions are long on general ideas: tax reform to make New Mexico more competitive, ditto for regulation reform, development of a workforce with higher skills, parlaying the research and development at our national laboratories and state universities into businesses with profits.
Specifics? Not so many yet, but sure to come in the months before January, when the legislature convenes and those federal jobs are scheduled to disappear.