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Business/Economy

  • NM cracks down on unemployment fraud

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor officials say they have cut the unemployment insurance fraud rate over the past year and continue to crack down on improper payments.

    The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions says the state now leads the nation in reducing improper payments. Between 2011 and 2012, the improper payment rate dropped to under 11 percent.

    Gov. Susana Martinez says the progress is a testament to her administration's commitment to cracking down on fraud and strengthening the system for businesses and workers.

    More initiatives are planned next year to keep fraud rates down.

    In January, the state will launch a new system under which jobless New Mexicans will be able to apply online for benefits. The system will also help employers by allowing them to electronically submit wage reports as well as pay taxes and track their accounts.

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  • Portales peanut butter plant plans to resume operations

    PORTALES, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico peanut butter company that was shuttered after a salmonella outbreak is scheduled to resume peanut processing on Tuesday.

    Sunland Inc. spokeswoman Katalin Coburn says officials are eager to begin shelling and processing this year's crop, which is about 98 percent harvested.

    She says the company hopes to resume making peanut butter by the end of the year.

    Sunland shuttered its operations in Portales and began a top-to-bottom scrubbing in late September after salmonella was found in peanut butter it made for Trader Joe's. The company then issued a voluntary recall of hundreds of products. Forty-one illnesses in 20 states have been linked to the peanut butter.

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  • N.M. MainStreet: Shop local

    The New Mexico Economic Development Department and New Mexico MainStreet Program encourage holiday shoppers to shop local first this holiday season.
    New Mexico MainStreet Communities have launched a shop local campaign this holiday season to encourage citizens to shop downtown at their local main street businesses.
    “Local small businesses in MainStreet districts are the heart of so many New Mexico communities,” Economic Development Secretary John Barela said. “It takes risk and a lot hard work to open a business and by supporting these businesses this holiday season we will see the benefits all year long by having these local retailers locate in our downtowns.”
    Buying local benefits local communities by:
    • Retaining money in the community — each time that money is spent at locally owned businesses, more money is available to support other local businesses like retail stores, movie theaters, auto repair shops, restaurants, health services, etc., and more local jobs are created
    • Local businesses generate local jobs — income to those businesses is returned in the form of salaries, which are spent locally as well. And don’t forget all those youth team sponsorships, raffle items, high school scholarships and other investments in our community that are made by local merchants.

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  • Forecasters: NM chances slim for winter moisture

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Weather forecasters and state and federal water managers are painting a grim picture of the chances of drought-stricken New Mexico making up any ground this winter.

    It's early, but officials say the state is already starting off with half of the average snowpack for this time of year and weather models aren't offering any hope for more snow.

    Drought has a lock on nearly three-quarters of the West, including much of New Mexico.

    With no meaningful winter moisture, Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist Raymond Abeyta says this coming year will mark the lowest New Mexico reservoirs have ever been heading into an irrigation season.

    That means trouble for water users who have spent the last two years operating on rations. In southern New Mexico, home to the second biggest pecan crop in the nation, groundwater levels are already taking a hit.

     

  • NM income gap continues to grow

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The gap between wealthy households and low-income families continues to grow in New Mexico, and the difference between their incomes is now the largest in the nation, according to a study released this week.
    From 2008 to 2010, the richest 5 percent of households had average incomes that were nearly 17 times higher than the bottom 20 percent of households, according to the report from the Washington, D.C.-based groups Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute. That’s a jump from two years earlier, when the difference was around 14 times.
    In addition, household income for the richest 20 percent of households in New Mexico was 9.9 times greater than for the poorest 20 percent, the report said. That’s the highest ratio in the nation.
    Arizona had the second highest ratio, at 9.8-to-1, followed by California, with a ratio of 9.5-to-1.
    Across all states, the average income of the richest fifth of households was eight times higher than the poorest fifth, the study showed.
    Elizabeth McNichol, a fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a co-author of the report, said growing inequality in New Mexico follows a trend that began in the 1970s and has gotten progressively worse as the state’s economy struggles.

  • Plaza concept dies hard

    The fence around the property at 2201 Trinity Dr. has been taken down.

    The Los Alamos Lodge, situated in the back of the property, now sits vacant. The door to the front desk of the lodge is bolted shut and there is a note on the window stating it is no longer in business.

    All guests of the lodge were asked to vacate the premises at the beginning of the month after First Judicial District Judge Barbara Vigil threw out Los Alamos Plaza’s LLC bankruptcy filing on the property Oct. 31.

    Realtor Denise Lane, who is marketing the property said, “The Special Master then issued a deed to the investment group that originally foreclosed on the property on Nov 1.  The investment group, Los Alamos Investors LLC now has the property listed for sale at $3 million.

    “The hotel ceased operation on Nov 5. The property is currently being winterized. We are working to contribute all of the furniture in the hotel to various shelters in Northern New Mexico.”