February 5, 2015 by Amanda Bradford, NMSU News Center
While the falling price of oil means more money in the pockets of New Mexico’s consumers, it also means less oil and gas revenue in the coffers of the state’s government. Meanwhile the state continues to lag behind the rest of the nation in job growth and recovery from the recession that began in late 2007. So what can we expect from New Mexico’s economy over the coming year?
Economists from New Mexico State University and Wells Fargo Bank will discuss the state and national forecast during the fourth annual Economic Outlook Conference on Feb. 19 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave.
Eugenio Aleman, a director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, said the U.S. economy saw a weak start to 2014, but it accelerated considerably during the second half of the year, and he expects strong growth to continue nationally.
“Last year, employment growth was the strongest since 1999, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6, which is within the range which economists consider to be full employment,” Aleman said. “However, the labor market needs to continue to heal as long-term unemployment remains extremely high. We expect the U.S. economy to post the strongest growth in 2015 of the current recovery, at 3.1 percent.”
He said we may see the Federal Reserve starting to normalize monetary policy around mid-year by increasing the interest rate – but that decision will depend on the data and could be delayed if the economy weakens.
Jim Peach, NMSU Regents Professor of economics, will explore the reasons why an optimistic national forecast hasn’t translated into economic growth here in New Mexico.
“Generally speaking, when the U.S. economy does well, so does the New Mexico economy,” Peach said. “But in terms of employment and other economic indicators, New Mexico has not yet recovered from the effects of the national recession that began in December 2007.”
Peach will examine prospects for the New Mexico economy in the next few years and how the recent decline in the price of oil and other commodities will affect the state. He’ll also look at other factors influencing economic growth in New Mexico, such as slower population growth, the aging of the population and the role of federal government spending.
The Economic Outlook Conference was conceived as a way to help area residents and business professionals gain a better understanding of the region’s economic climate. The NMSU College of Business hosts the conference in partnership with Wells Fargo Bank, the state’s largest bank by deposits, with locations in 52 New Mexico communities.
“The Las Cruces business community will benefit greatly from the findings and insight of these experts,” said Yolanda Garcia, Wells Fargo Southwestern New Mexico Area president. “Dr. Aleman specializes in forecasting economic trends in communities along the U.S.-Mexican border, whereas Dr. Peach brings decades of experience analyzing local and statewide data. Together, the two will bring uniquely relevant conversations to Las Cruces.”
The free conference kicks off with a reception at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 19, followed by the economists’ presentations from 10 to 11:30 a.m., all at the Las Cruces Convention Center. Event registration is available online at http://business.nmsu.edu/events or by phone at 575-521-6849.