Economic Growth in Otero County Showing Weak Growth and Failed Focus


As inflation remains stubborn, employment, wages, and number of establishments are up year-over-year in New Mexico except in Otero County where a huge decline in construction has occurred causing the local tax receipts to lag. Construction is one of the largest economic drivers for the county yet home construction is down as is new business construction. The reason continues to be a lack of consistency in the building codes and standards with the rest of the state. The result is only larger homes are being built and that market has shrunk in Alamogordo in recent years. With a population of more than 50% of families enrolled in the schools at the poverty level the city must address building codes to standards such as in Las Cruces so more and smaller in fill houses and neighborhoods can be constructed.

Where is the infill housing at lower price points? Where is this much touted new apartment complex promised for 3 years by the Chamber of Commerce and the mayor?

Despite what we hear in the national press and on the national level,  if one steps into almost any service business in Alamogordo on the other hand, one sees they are in desperate need of employees and they don’t have the staff to handle the business. Alamogordo does not have a business growth issue it has a problem with people wanting to work

Visit any fast food restaurant, most hotels, most big retailers and they will all tell you they are hungry for reliable dependable staff members, but pay low, few benefits and poor working condition's of a fast pace with few breaks keeps most workers from filling those jobs.

In the second quarter of FY24, 25 of 33 counties saw year-over- year economic growth, with 5.1% growth statewide in
matched taxable gross receipts (MTGR). State MTGR was the second highest quarterly total, trailing only the previous quarter, Q1 FY24 

Otero County’s matched taxable gross receipts (MTGR) declined by $23M
from Q1 FY24 to Q2 of FY24. Retail trade, construction, and other services were the
top 3 industries by MTGR in Q2 FY24, Otero shows a year-over-year (YOY) decrease in Q2 FY24 of $61M, or -15%, compared
to Q2 FY23. The largest contributor to this decrease came from the construction
industry per the New Mexico Department of Economic Development.

The agriculture, forestry, fishing, industries also saw declines. Year over year wages increased by .07% or just $6 on average in total for the quarter. Otero County and the City of Alamogordo continues to lag behind the rest of the state in wage growth and business development as is one of only 8 of the 33 counties showing stagnation in growth and employment numbers. 

Commentary: Where is the economic leadership in Otero County? 

It’s time the Chamber of Commerce and the mayor, quit devoting time focused on developing a Charter School promotion and actually address its core function business development and regional economic growth. It’s time we transform the economy to get off the government tit and build local businesses and industries. 

If the present Chamber leadership won’t do it, then maybe it time a new organization to forge a real vision of economic development and collaboration with Santa Fe to drive jobs and investment to Alamogordo and Otero County. 

It’s time we stop blaming the Governor for our local leaders failing Otero County with an economic recovery. It’s time we lead ourselves and lift out own bootstraps to move forward in a direction that actually produces positive economic results. 

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