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NMSU partners with Wells Fargo to present economic forecast for 2014

While most of the country continues to recover from the economic recession that began in 2007, New Mexico trails every other state in terms of job growth. So, what does that mean for the state's economic outlook?

Photo of Jim Peach and Eugenio Aleman
New Mexico State University economist Jim Peach, left, and Wells Fargo senior economist and director Eugenio Aleman will discuss their regional and national economic forecasts at an Economic Outlook Conference hosted by NMSU on Feb. 20 at the Las Cruces Convention Center. (Photo by Niki Rhynes)

Economists from New Mexico State University and Wells Fargo Bank will discuss the state and national forecast during the third annual Economic Outlook Conference on Feb. 20 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave.

Eugenio Aleman, a director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, will present his analysis of the national economy as it continues to gain momentum following the "Great Recession."

"In 2014, we will see the pace of recovery accelerate a bit as the rate of unemployment continues to come down and the world economy becomes less of a drag on U.S. economic activity," Aleman said. "The U.S. consumer continues to make headway into recovering its past strength, and even though lack of growth in personal income and credit will keep consumer demand constrained, the consumer will remain a driver of U.S. economic growth."

NMSU Regents Professor of economics Jim Peach will explore the reasons why an optimistic national forecast hasn't translated into economic growth here in New Mexico.

"New Mexico's recovery from the Great Recession has been incredibly slow," Peach said. "According to the most recent jobs data from November, we're the only state not to have a gain in employment since June of 2009."

Peach said every state suffered economically during the recession, but most have recovered significantly. Not so in New Mexico. There are number of reasons for that, he said, but one major contributor is that the state is heavily dependent on federal government expenditures.

"That's not a growth industry anymore," he said, noting that three of Dona Ana County's top employers - White Sands Missile Range, NMSU and Las Cruces Public Schools, all of whom rely on federal or state dollars - have seen spending flatten since the recession.

Peach will also discuss strategies that could help strengthen New Mexico's economy and outline areas where the state should focus its resources in order to stimulate job growth.

The Economic Outlook Conference was conceived as a way to help area residents and business professionals gain a better understanding of the region's economic climate. The NMSU College of Business has partnered with Wells Fargo Bank, the state's largest bank by deposits, with locations in 52 New Mexico communities.

"The economic outlook conference will provide valuable insight for business, community and government leaders as they prepare to make important decisions in 2014," said Yolanda Garcia, Wells Fargo area president. "Dr. Aleman specializes in forecasting economic trends in border towns along the U.S.-Mexico border, so his insight and expertise will be uniquely relevant to Las Cruces."

Kathy Brook, interim dean of the College of Business, said the important information at the conference is presented in an entertaining discussion that's easy to understand.

"The college is delighted to partner with Wells Fargo once again in an engaging presentation on the global and local economic outlook," she said. "In the hands of Drs. Aleman and Peach, economics is anything but the dismal science."

The free conference kicks off with a reception at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 20, followed by the economists' presentations from 10 to 11:30 a.m., all at the Las Cruces Convention Center. Event registration is available online at http://business.nmsu.edu/events or by phone through Judy Wetzel at 575-521-6849.