New Mexico Is an ‘Aerospace State’? Seriously?

Last fall, Errors of Enchantment noted that New Mexico taxpayers were being forced to pay “dues” to the Aerospace States Association (ASA), “an organization of Lieutenant Governors and state appointed delegates” created to “promote a state-based perspective in federal aerospace policy development and support state aerospace initiatives that enhance student/teacher education outreach and economic development opportunities.”

We looked at the data, and found that all the corporate-welfare schemes implemented to promote aerospace in the Land of Enchantment were yielding zilch in results. But with Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez now the ASA’s chairman, a refresher course is necessary.

New Mexico is not an “aerospace state.” As the figures below, courtesy the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicate, employment in the sector is almost too small to measure — and dwarfed by comparable jobs in neighbor states.

Okay, that’s not entirely fair. New Mexico has a small population, and we have fewer citizens than each of our neighbors. That’s why a metric called “location quotient” is so helpful. It’s a ratio that allows “an area’s distribution of employment by industry, ownership, and size class to be compared to a reference area’s distribution.” The U.S. LQ is usually set at 1, with a score “greater than 1 [indicating] an industry with a greater share of the local area employment than is the case nationwide.” Below are the aerospace-employment LQs for New Mexico’s neighborhood.

Nationally, 25 states beat New Mexico on LQ employment, including places that aren’t known much for aerospace, including Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, and Vermont.

Great weather, low costs, and lots of open land. New Mexico should be a natural for aerospace. But no right-to-work law, a complicated and cumbersome GRT, a bloated and unaccountable “public sector,” and militant education-establishment resistance to change and choice surely contribute to the industry’s unwillingness to locate facilities here. Until broad and deep policy changes attract aerospace investment, it’s absurd for taxpayers to subsidize — and the lieutenant governor to chair — the ASA.