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Albuquerque’s Economy Showing Impressive Growth from Recovery Efforts

Ranks as a ‘Best Run City,’ gains in key recovery indicators, including GRT, construction, wages

Oct. 18, 2021

The City of Albuquerque is leading in pandemic economic recovery, and maintained or exceeded estimated growth in many categories during 2020 and 2021, according to recent data regarding the City’s economic trends, and comparisons to peer cities. In addition, Albuquerque was recognized as one of the “Best-Run Cities in America” demonstrating smart use of City funding to maintain a high quality of resident services.

“The pandemic presented us with tough challenges, but we stepped up to keep Albuquerque’s economy strong and growing,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Instead of bringing the City to a halt during the public health crisis, we continued services, preserved and expanded employment opportunities, kept construction projects going and never stopped our work to create a better Burque for every family that calls this home. These efforts are paying off as key indicators show we’re achieving a robust recovery.”

Construction jobs, a major driver of economic activity for the city, grew an impressive 14%, or 3,500 jobs, from August 2020 to August 2021—better than Austin, Colorado Springs, El Paso, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and others, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Albuquerque’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate also decreased in August 2021 to 5.9% from 6.9% in July 2021, while wage growth from 2019 Q1 to 2021 Q1 was +8.6%, higher than Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs, El Paso, and Tucson, according to Federal Reserve data.

Albuquerque also experienced an increase in construction permit revenue growth. FY2020 construction permit revenue grew 20.3% over FY2019, the highest since FY2017. Permit revenue maintained that level in FY2021 despite COVID-19, with approximately equal amounts of commercial and residential construction.

"Throughout the pandemic and into recovery, we were able to reduce City spending and make innovative financial decisions to save jobs and maintain municipal services,” said Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta. “Growth in these key areas indicate a strong economic recovery and an improved financial position going forward.”

The City’s gross receipts taxes are exceeding estimates, with FY2021 GRT General Fund revenue finishing 5.2% above growth estimates. The City showed equally strong growth for the first month of FY2022, with base GRT growth in July 2021 coming in 21.3% higher than July 2020, and 4.6% higher than July 2019.

National ranking sources are taking notice as well. According to data compiled and analyzed by WalletHub, Albuquerque is spending taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively. They ranked Albuquerque 31 out of 150 large cities across the nation, above most of our peers, noting operating efficiency which was measured by comparing the quality of services residents receive in relation to the city’s total budget.

“The City’s economic development efforts throughout the pandemic have put our city on the path to a robust recovery and a bright future,” said Damian R. Lara, the City’s Economic Development Department interim director. “We’ll continue our smart recruitment and retention efforts, supporting Albuquerque’s workforce and small businesses, and building an economy that works for everyone.”