New Mexico Cities Fare Poorly in Recovery Report

Albuquerque ranks poorly among the country's largest cities in how well it has recovered from the Great Recession, according to a new report released by the financial website WalletHub.

The report ranked Albuquerque 54th out of the 62 largest cities and 411th out of the total 505 cities studied. Santa Fe, at 431, and Rio Rancho, at 489 also fared poorly in the report. Las Cruces ranked highest among New Mexico cities, but at 390 was still well into the bottom half.

The report used 18 metrics for comparison, including unemployment, labor participation and poverty rates, as well as measures of public assistance, inflow of college-educated workers, income, foreclosures and bankruptcies.

Other cities in the region fared worse. Among the 62 largest cities, Phoenix ranked 59th, Mesa 60th, and Tucson dead last.

The top spot was held by Austin, while Denver and El Paso came in at 2 and 3, respectively.

Albuquerque ranked particularly poorly for its unemployment rate (442 overall), foreclosures (447), proverty rate (369) and labor force participation (383).

Experts asked to comment on the findings by WalletHub suggest that while moving to higher growth cities may be the right move for some people, it has its risks. For example, housing costs typically are higher in areas where the economy is growing quickly, and it may mean leaving important support networks, such as family and friends.

"I think that is a very individual and personal decision that should depend on many different factors — personal and social life, employment, quality of the neighborhood, and quality of governance. If any one or two of those drastically decline, that may mean that it's time to move on," Annika Hinze, assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, said in the report. "But depending on personal and family roots in a city, age, family status, etc., this may be a costly decision and should be very carefully considered."

As for strategies to turn around an ailing economy, the panel consulted had a range of ideas, including improving infrastructure along with pay and benefits for workers and educational opportunities. Several said economic diversification was critical.

"If cities manage to attract a variety of different industries, they can create economic buffers, so that if one falters, others can hold up the urban economy," Hinze said.

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