LCSN: Economy on mend, but not healed yet

October 13, 2010. Retrieved online October 13, 2010 from Steve Ramirez, Las Cruces Sun-News

Electrician Electrician Hector Ordaz, 24, of Chaparral, works on a shopping plaza Tuesday at Spruce Avenue and Solano Drive. According to a recent analysis by Moody's Analytics and, even though New Mexico is still stuck in a recession apart from most of the nation, Las Cruces is one of the cities in the state that seems to be on the road to recovery. Norm Dettlaff/Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – Even though economists say the recession is over in Las Cruces, they would have a hard time proving it to some residents.

Justin Lozano, 23, lost a job he had for about four years and is now unemployed and living on food stamps. Michael Shackelford, a 28-year-old graduate of New Mexico State University, has had problems finding a job and is getting by with a “survival” job.

Leah Perches, 36, worries about the uncertain economy and wonders if she’ll be able to hold on to her job.

“I grew up in Las Cruces, moved away in 2003 and then moved back five years later,” said Michael Mitchell, a 30-year-old foreman with Pueblo Builders. “I feel like Las Cruces was in the same place (economically) it was in 2003. It’s like we never experienced the boom here.”

But a study recently released by Moody’s Analytics, a leading independent provider of economic, financial and industry research, said that Las Cruces and Farmington are showing signs of recovery, while Santa Fe and Albuquerque have not fared as well.

Hopeful outlook

City Budget Director Dick Gebhart and New Mexico State University economist Chris Erickson both said Tuesday they agree with the report’s findings.

“We have started to see improvement,” said Gebhart, who has closely monitored the recession and advised city government leaders on financial recommendations that have turned out to be spot on. “Employment is growing and we’ve seen that trend continue for at least the last four months. Hopefully, we’re turning the corner and we can keep that up.”

Erickson, who specializes in macroeconomics, monetary theory and regional economics, and has maintained a forecasting model of the New Mexico economy since 1993, said Las Cruces’ dependence on the military has stimulated its economy.

“Las Cruces has been doing fairly well, the economy is robust except for construction,” Erickson said. “…Our economy is driven by the military and that’s been affected by White Sands (Missile Range) doing pretty well, with government contractors and the addition of troops there. Las Cruces has also benefited from a spillover from El Paso, where the increase in troops there has tremendously helped that community.”

Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article.

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