News Column

Albuquerque Dropped From Improving Markets Index

May 15, 2013
Middle-class suburb in Albuquerque (photo: Riverrat303, Creative Commons)
Middle-class suburb in Albuquerque (photo: Riverrat303, Creative Commons)

The Albuquerque metro area was dropped from the May list of metros in the Improving Markets Index put out by the National Association of Home Builders/ First American, pointing to just how tenuous the housing recovery is here.

Albuquerque was first listed in the index in February on the strength of increases in housing permits, home prices and a tiny uptick in overall employment. The index doesn't explain why Albuquerque was dropped, but data show the continuation of a trend of net job losses and flat permits.

"I think the fact that we have been dropped from the First American Improving Markets Index is simply an indication of how fragile the housing recovery has been in the Albuquerque metropolitan area," said Jim Folkman of the HBA, the homebuilders association in the Albuquerque metro.

"In the final analysis, sustainable growth in the housing market is nearly always driven by new job creation and, regrettably, we still lag behind other states in our geographic region," he said.

Albuquerque was one of 15 metros dropped from the index in May, decreasing the total number from 273 in April to 258. Among the other metros dropped were McAllen, Texas; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Philadelphia, Pa. In May 2012, the index listed 100 metros.

While the jump in metros listed in the index over the past year is a positive sign, the month-to-month drop is indicative of "rising challenges related to the availability of credit, building materials, labor and lots for development," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson of Charlotte, N.C., in a news release.

Launched in September 2011, the index measures monthly progress from the trough or bottom of a metro's economy and housing market. The three indicators that are analyzed, using federal data, are employment growth, house-price appreciation and single-family housing permit growth.

Santa Fe is the only metro in New Mexico listed in the May index. The index shows 2.5 percent job growth since the permit trough in March 2009, 0.6 percent growth in home prices since the trough in April 2012 and 0.5 percent job growth since the trough in employment in November 2009.

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