Correction issued below
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico continues to reopen and the pandemic starts to wind down, experts are seeing a shortage of goods like cars and houses, which is driving up prices. So just how long will it take for New Mexico’s economy to get back to normal? An economic researcher at the University of New Mexico said the state has always been slow to recover from economic lows but believes our state is headed in the right direction.
Like many economic sectors, the pandemic pumped the brakes on the auto industry. Manufacturing plants shut down and a global shortage of microprocessor chips brought assembly lines to a halt. “It created a little bit of a logistics jam,” said JLM Auto Sales co-owner, Leighton Kaufman. “So we were just kind of stuck.”
Impacting local car dealerships like JLM Auto Sales in Albuquerque. The lack of auto production left their lot short 30 cars. “This year is a totally different animal,” said Kaufman. “There’s no inventory, there’s no product, there’s no new cars so it created a crunch because the new car dealers, the franchise stores, they got into the used market just to have something on their lot. So prices have increased. They’re at a high that I’ve never seen in 20 years.”
The auto industry isn’t alone. Housing shortages have ramped up home prices and unemployment numbers continue to rise. According to “Mo” O’Donnell, a UNM Economic Researcher, getting back to where we were pre-pandemic won’t happen overnight.
“People have gotten used to not going out to eat, people have gotten used to not going to retail stores, people have gotten to use shopping online at a much more accelerated rate that was predicted anyway that people were going to start using the Amazons of the world at a greater rate,” said Kaufman. “But this pandemic has accelerated this sort of move or transition to online retailing and it’s targeted a lot of people that may not have otherwise gone that direction.”
Kaufman said a blend of easing restrictions, vaccinating people and giving people time to adjust psychologically after the pandemic will ultimately help boost our economy. “If you’re trying to provide the general public with some sense of security in terms of being able to go out and be amongst other people again and obviously in terms of economy, go out and spend money and become participants in the local economy, that’s an important factor going forward,” said Kaufman.
As far as easing restrictions, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state can fully reopen when 60% of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated. Right now, that number stands at 53%. Businesses expanding in our state are also a huge boost to our economy. Corporate giants like Amazon and Intel have announced they’re investing more in New Mexico.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the governor said the state can fully reopen when 50% of New Mexicans are vaccinated. That is incorrect. The state can reopen when 60% of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated.