June 7, 2017

Ranking puts NM’s economy near the bottom

New Mexico’s economy is near the bottom of the barrel according to a recent ranking.

WalletHub listed New Mexico’s economy as 40th among all states and Washington D.C., as the state ranked dead-last in economic health, largely because of the nation’s highest unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

New Mexico also ranked last in the average educational attainment of recent immigrants.

But New Mexico ranked second in the highest percentage of jobs in high-tech industries, only trailing Massachusetts.

That high-tech industry jobs category helped New Mexico rank 16th in innovation potential, one of the three main categories averaged together for a final score—alongside economic activity and economic health.

In economic activity, New Mexico ranked just 44th.

WalletHub also solicited opinions from several experts on the meaning of the rankings.

Christopher R. Bolling, a Sturgill professor of economics and director of the Center for Business and Economics at the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky, addressed a problem New Mexico politicians and others have been talking about for years: the “brain drain,” or those with college degrees leaving the state after graduation.

Bolling believes this “is a somewhat overhyped phenomenon.”

“In general, states gain and lose workers as their economy performers better or worse than the region or country,” he wrote.

Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Brent R. Hickman said research universities are strong drivers of entrepreneurship.

“It is quite common, for example for new ideas that come up in academic engineering research to be spun off as startup companies to further develop and commercialize the idea,” he said. He also said the dedicated spaces for incubating startups are helpful.

The study used data from a number of sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Washington led the overall rankings, follow by California, Utah, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

West Virginia came in at the bottom, behind Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.