Jones travels around the country giving presentations on the national economy. He’s known for his southern accent, his sense of humor and peppering his speeches on the economy with phrases like, “let’s tell it like it is.”Ted Jones, chief economist for Stewart Title.
Jones was in Rio Rancho on Thursday at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center with a look at New Mexico’s overall economy, which he presented at NAIOP-New Mexico’s Rio Rancho Roundtable Series.
Despite saying he’s not a feel-good economist, he started with positive indicators New Mexico is posting.
Must like the rest of the U.S., New Mexico’s hospitality and leisure sectors grew 4.21 percent in the past 12 months. He credits the rise in the hospitality and leisure sectors to low oil prices, which allows families to save on gas and have extra money in their pocket for vacations.
The economic impact of New Mexico’s tourism industry in 2014 was the largest in state history. The industry injected $6.1 billion into New Mexico’s economy and supported about 89,000 jobs in 2014.
“That’s phenomenal growth,” he said, adding it’s a number that bodes well for the economy. “No one spends money on leisure unless they’re feeling good about the economy.”
Albuquerque’s real estate is also doing well, Jones said. He pointed to improving home sales and said Albuquerque is primed as a hot investment market both in the residential and commercial sectors. He pointed out New Mexico’s real estate isn’t as expensive to buy, but the rate of return is about the same as other markets.
“More and more investors that used to buy in New York, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco are looking at places like Albuquerque,” Jones said. “(Investors) can buy a place in New York, or here in Albuquerque and get 50 percent more cash flow here. That’s why they’re coming here.”
He said there are several things pulling New Mexico’s economy down. First, he chided the state’s business tax climate. Second, he recognized how low oil prices have impacted the southeastern part of the state and Farmington.
Jones also was surprised by how many government jobs New Mexico relies on, about 23 percent of all jobs in the state. While the news doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone locally, Jones emphasized how the statistic is alarming, especially when other states such as Arizona and Colorado have more federal land.
“You’re funding a lot more government employees and I don’t know why,” he said. “You have the ability to shrink state government dramatically.”
Still, Jones said while New Mexico’s job growth isn’t great, it’s steady.
“This is a strong, sustainable recovery,” he said.
By: Stephanie Guzman (Albuquerque Business First)
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