“It looks and feels like this is a continuation of what has been going on in Sandoval County for the last five years — an erosion of the economic base, in which goods and services are sold outside of the area,” economic consultant Mark Lautman said in a phone interview.
Zip Code Business Patterns, released annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows the number of business establishments in 87124 and 87144 increased from 1,002 in 2011 to 1,045 in 2012, while their total number of employees dipped from 19,130 to 17,259.
Whenever one of those economic base jobs goes away, Lautman said, as has happened with recent layoffs at Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard, a job or two in the service sector also vanishes.
As recently as 2006, about a year before the Great Recession started, 903 businesses in those two zip codes employed 23,954 individuals, with an annual payroll of $1.03 billion.
The dip in payrolls might not reflect a decline in economic activity. Gross receipts reported by businesses in the city, according to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, fell only slightly, from $1.66 billion in 2011 to $1.61 billion in 2012.
When local economic base employers downsize, they can usually make the same amount of product with fewer employees, Lautman said.
The average number of employees per establishment in Rio Rancho initially increased slightly, from 25 in 2000 to 27 in 2006, before falling to a low of 17 in 2012, according to the zip code data.
Several of the largest local businesses have reduced their workforces since the turn of the century.
In 2000: 5,200 at Intel, 1,042 at Rio Rancho Public Schools, 1,150 at Sprint PCS, 580 at Victoria’s Secret Call Center, 423 at J.C. Penney Catalog Center, 400 at City of Rio Rancho, 330 at Bank of America Call Center and 280 at Sparton Technology, according to rioranchonmproperties.com.
In 2011: 3,300 at Intel, 1,300 at RRPS, 800 at Sprint, 616 at eTelecare Global Solutions, 500 at Brycon Corporation, 500 at Victoria’s Secret, 400 at J.C. Penney and 250 at U.S. Cotton Inc., according to nmnetlinks.com.
The next year saw a re-arrangement of which local businesses employed the most, with some shutting their doors or turning their facilities over to another company.
The 10 largest local companies in late 2012, according to the Rio Rancho Economic Development Corp., were Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Sprint, Stream Global, Bank of America, Alliance Data, U.S. Cotton, Intersections Inc., Lectrosonics Inc. and Don Chalmers Ford.
Less than half of all new businesses survive to the end of their fifth year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As local employers reduced the size of their workforces from 2011 to 2012, the number of local residents with jobs held fairly steady, perhaps as some who lost their jobs with a local company secured comparable work outside of the city.
Sandoval County will not get rescued by Albuquerque, Lautman said, because its economic base, the federal government, is shrinking, which was by far the largest sector of employment in the metro area.
The number of people who had jobs and lived in Rio Rancho increased slightly, from 39,676 in 2011 to 39,947 in 2012, according to Local Area Unemployment Statistics from the BLS.
The median income for workers who live in Rio Rancho, according to the American Community Survey administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, increased from $31,682 in 2011 to $33,800 in 2012.
The Census Bureau will release more detailed business data for Rio Rancho from the 2012 Economic Census of the United States, which happens twice every decade, between June 2014 and June 2016.