Busted: If Santa Fe were ever shielded from the recession, it is no longer.
When it comes to making payments on their mortgages, bank-issued credit cards, student loans and car loans, Santa Fe County residents are falling behind faster than New Mexico’s other large population centers. That sad update comes from credit reporting data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which compares the third quarter of 2009 to the same period last year.
For example, bank card delinquencies increased by 0.14 percent over the year in Santa Fe County—but declined in Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties. A similar pattern was true of Santa Feans with college debt; student loan delinquencies were up 3.3 percent here.
This trend is odd because Santa Fe has a lower unemployment rate than Albuquerque or Las Cruces, according to the latest official figures from the Department of Workforce Solutions.
SFR got a simple explanation from Larry Waldman, senior research scientist with the Bureau of Business & Economic Research.
“The unemployment rate figures suck,” Waldman says. The reasons for the figures’ suckitude are complex and sundry. The upshot: Many more Santa Feans are jobless than the state claims.
Waldman says job growth, as reported by companies, is a better measure of economic health in this recession. His early estimates show that, on average, the number of jobs in Santa Fe declined by 5 percent in the first three quarters of 2009. “That is really severe,” Waldman says. “It’s no surprise you have a lot of defaults up there.”
The rest of the state was down by approximately 4 percent. “The only haven is Las Cruces, and even they’re not doing that well,” Waldman says.
So how was 2009 for New Mexico’s economy? “We’re much worse off,” Kim Posich, executive director of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, says. And he says the situation going forward would be better if not for the “Bush-like” tax cuts Gov. Bill Richardson got passed in his first term.
History’s history: Even the taxpayer-financed 400th anniversary windfall couldn’t save Santa Fe’s only Hispano history magazine. The current issue of La Herencia is its last—at least on paper. “I’ve decided that the only way to survive is to stop the presses and go to the web,” publisher Ana Pacheco writes in the winter issue, blaming reduced advertising.
La Herencia had at least one steady client: the City of Santa Fe, under an exclusive promotional contract dating to 2007. Pacheco writes that the mag’s 400th anniversary issue will be published in The Santa Fe New Mexican, which now hosts La Herencia’s archives.