New Mexico brings up the rear in personal income growth


A TALE OF TWO STATES: New Mexico finished 48th in the percentage of personal income growth in 2013 while the booming state of North Dakota finished first.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. – The weather in New Mexico may far surpass that of the frigid prairies of North Dakota, but when it comes to economic climate, the Land of Enchantment lags far behind.

A federal study released Tuesday shows New Mexico finishing 48th in the nation in personal income growth in 2013, while North Dakota came in first place.

Only Maryland and West Virginia turned in lower results than New Mexico’s 1.7 percent figure in the annual report conducted by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

At the other extreme, North Dakota — its economy booming due to energy exploration in the oil-rich Bakken Formation — grew 7.6 percent over 2012. Utah came in a distant second at 4 percent ,and Idaho was third at 3.7 percent.

Like North Dakota, southeastern New Mexico has seen a boost in oil production, but the natural gas industry in the northwestern corner of the state has sputtered. Prices have fallen since mid-2008 and haven’t revived. It’s estimated that a 10-cent increase in the price of natural gas translates into $10 million in extra revenue to New Mexico’s general fund.

In another contrast between North Dakota and New Mexico, New Mexico finished near the bottom nationally in the BEA’s net earnings.

That’s the amount of total wages, salaries and income in a given state subtracted by the contributions for government social insurance, plus adjustments. New Mexico’s net earnings rose just 0.5 percent, 49th in the nation, while North Dakota rose 8.9 percent, finishing far ahead of every other state.

Here’s a comparison between New Mexico’s personal income growth and North Dakota’s in the last 10 years of the BEA analysis:

Nationally, personal income grew 2.6 percent between 2012 and 2013 and per capita income averaged $44,543. New Mexico’s per capita income was $36,284, putting it 43rd in the nation.

Being an election year, New Mexico’s poor showing in the BEA rankings offers ammunition for both sides in the partisan divide. Democrats can look at the numbers and lay blame at Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who took office in January 2011, while Republicans can point out that Democrats have held majorities in the state Senate since the 1980s and the House of Representatives since 1953.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski