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By New Mexico Watchdog (Reporter)
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New Mexico tops Forbes list of “death spiral states”

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It’s not exactly a No. 1 ranking that the state tourism board will be bragging about.

Forbes magazine came out with a list of the states that have the highest ratio of people who draw money from the government — as an employee, pensioner or welfare recipient — relative to people who are gainfully employed in the private sector.

William Baldwin of Forbes asks, “what happens when these needy types outnumber the providers? Taxes get too high. Prosperous citizens decamp. Employers decamp. That just makes matters worse for the taxpayers left behind.”

And here are the states that Baldwin says make up his “elite list of fiscal hellholes”:

The count of so-called “takers” is made up of the number of state and local government workers plus the number of people on Medicaid plus 1 for each $100,000 of unfunded pension liabilities.

I looked a little closer at the Forbes list and discovered federal employees are excluded from the “taker” count since their cost is not borne locally. That would mean that employees from Sandia and Los Alamos national labs are not included, which make the numbers even more sobering.

Another factor in the Forbes list is an analysis of each of the 50 states’ credit-worthiness done by Conning & Co., a money manager known for its measures of risk in insurance company portfolios.

On the Conning list published back in April, New Mexico ranked 36th in the nation.

There’s been more discussion in recent months about diversifying New Mexico’s economy to make it less dependent on government (click here to see an interview we did with Jon Barela of the Economic Development Department) but while the state’s unemployment rate has declined slightly, New Mexico’s economy has been lagging in relation to neighboring states when it comes to job growth.

You can read the Forbes article and the accompanying “death spiral” ratios here.

By the way, the five strongest states, in descending order, are: North Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, South Dakota and Virginia.


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