Last week, the ABQ Free Press‘s Dennis Domrzalski had some fun with the latest “tourism” figures trumpeted by state officials. He noted that the “‘trip’ stats are extrapolated from surveys filled out by travelers and probably include people who are driving through the state on their way to somewhere else. … So if someone stops to buy gas, beef sticks or cheese puffs at a gas station along the interstates, they’re most likely counted. That includes long-haul truck drivers who stop to shower in a truck stop and fuel up. And that probably includes people in layovers at the airports.”
Of further concern is the fact that the figures were supplied by Longwoods International, a firm that Errors of Enchantment has brought to readers’ attention before.
But there’s a larger question worth asking: Why is the state pushing tourism as “economic development” at all?
Check out the chart below. It’s a look at average hourly wages in the North American Industry Classification System‘s ten supersectors.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The worst wage is in Leisure and Hospitality, which pays 32.3 percent less than the second-lowest supersector.
Don’t New Mexico’s elected officials and economic-development bureaucrats want the populace to be employed and grow wealthier? If so, they’re going about it in a curious way.
Now, don’t be alarmed. Errors of Enchantment isn’t about to start advocating for a Financial Activities Department or a Professional and Business Services Department. Our task here is to highlight the inanity of government picking winners and losers, either between or within industries.
True supporters of economic development in the Land of Enchantment understand that government should be entirely neutral when it comes to creating jobs and boosting wages. Lighten the tax and regulatory burdens so that all businesses — resorts and factories, tech firms and mines, galleries and banks, farms and stores — prosper. Are there any New Mexico pols willing to give it a try?