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MRCOG develops socioeconomic forecasts to assist regional planners and decision-makers as they evaluate future transportation needs, perform land use and transportation project planning, and develop local land use and transportation policy.
The 2040 Socioeconomic Forecast by Data Analysis Subzone (DASZ) accompanies the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) as the official forecast for transportation planning purposes. The core variables of the DASZ forecast include population, households, housing units (single family and multi-family) and employment (basic, retail and service jobs). This summary is designed to provide select highlights of the socioeconomic forecast.
By 2040, the MRCOG region is expected to reach 1.375 million people and 582,000 jobs. The table below shows the 2040 forecast for population, housing and employment by county.
*The regional population projection is based on an aggregated population projection developed by UNM-GPS in 2012. The county and sub-county level population forecast and the regional employment forecast is developed by MRCOG.
While growth has slowed substantially since 2008, the forecast assumes that in time, migration will rebound and employment growth will resume as the region continues to emerge from the lingering impacts of the Great Recession.
The counties that make up the MRCOG region are diverse in size and character and exhibit differences in the expected magnitude and pace of new growth. Table 2 illustrates forecast population and employment growth by county.
At the heart of the metropolitan area, Bernalillo County is expected to grow by over 300,000 people and 132,000 jobs, capturing 68 percent of the region’s population growth and 72 percent of its job growth between 2012 and 2040. As such, Bernalillo County will continue to retain and attract the majority of people and jobs within the region.
Sandoval County is forecast to gain 85,000 people and 40,000 jobs. While the population growth continues to be strong (62 percent), it is not expected to sustain the same pace that it has seen over the past several decades. Employment growth, however, will be more substantial than the past, as it is forecast to more than double its current job base. This growth is driven by the City of Rio Rancho, which is expected to attract new jobs in order to meet the demands of a growing population. This is already evidenced by its rapidly expanding health services sector.
Southern Santa Fe County is expected to see the fastest pace of population growth, growing by 72 percent or over 7,000 people. Its small population base means that relatively modest increases result in a higher growth rate. In addition, the greater Edgewood area offers land availability, amenities associated with a more rural lifestyle, and access to Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
The forecast for Torrance County assumes moderate population growth and slow job growth over the forecast period. Between 2000 and 2010, Torrance County experienced population loss which has continued since the 2010 decennial census.
Valencia County will see fast paced growth in both population (65 percent) and employment (64 percent). Along with proximity to Albuquerque and a largely rural lifestyle, Valencia County has the advantage of transit service by the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, a UNM campus, and several larger employers.
New growth in the MRCOG region will be accommodated one of three ways: 1) aging neighborhoods will be repopulated with new residents and families, 2) infill and redevelopment opportunities will be seized on vacant parcels or through repurposing and/or demolishing existing buildings and 3) new growth will occur in master planned subdivisions and, to a lesser degree, low density development on land adjacent to populated areas.
The map below illustrates where new growth is forecast throughout the metropolitan area between 2012 and 2040 by Data Analysis Subzone.
There will be a certain level of densification that occurs in existing neighborhoods due to increased occupancy rates, the redevelopment of existing structures, and increased demand in centers and along high service transit corridors. However, the urban core of the metropolitan area will continue to decline in its overall share of population as the vast amount of new development occurs in areas with greater land availability.
For transportation planning purposes, it is useful to understand growth patterns east and west of the Rio Grande given the implications for travel along the river crossings. There has been a historical imbalance of jobs and housing west of the Rio Grande, which results in heavily directional travel eastbound in the AM peak commuting hours and westbound during the PM peak, and existing congestion on our river crossings is expected to become much worse. Table 4 highlights the existing and forecast jobs-to-housing ratios for several geographies.
The region’s overall jobs-to-housing ratio was at 1.04 in 2012, and is expected to decline just slightly to 1.02 in 2040 as population grows slightly faster than jobs. The imbalance on the Westside of 0.56 jobs for each home in 2012 is expected to improve over the forecast period to 0.64; however, it remains substantially lower than the Eastside’s ratio of 1.35.
The 2040 forecast anticipates that just over half of all new housing and 40 percent of all new jobs will locate west of the river. In all, 96,000 new housing units (a 64 percent increase) and 74,000 new jobs (an 87 percent increase) are projected west of the Rio Grande between 2012 and 2040.
Multi-family housing has been of great interest particularly recently as greater demand has fueled an increase in multi-family construction and edged up occupancy rates and rents across the region. It is likely that some of the more recent activity can be attributed to lingering instability in household incomes and the housing market related to the recession. However, it is possible that these indicators point towards a longer-term trend. The 2040 forecast for multi-family housing indicates that multi-family growth will continue at a faster rate than single-family housing (84 percent compared with 41 percent).
In 2012, there were an estimated 76,000 multi-family units in the region. The region is forecast to gain another 64,000 new multi-family units by 2040. While the majority of those units will be built in Bernalillo County, Sandoval and Valencia Counties are also expected to grow their multi-family stock substantially. In addition, the forecast suggests that occupancy rates among all housing types will rise, from 92.8 percent in 2012 to 94.4 percent by 2040. An increase in occupancy rates implies that the future will bring increased growth within existing residential areas. The more efficient use of existing structures and spaces is driven primarily by the important role that access plays in the location decisions of households and employers.
Overall, the region is projected to gain 185,000 new jobs between 2012 and 2040 to reach a total employment forecast of 582,600. MRCOG forecasts are distributed into three distinct sector groups; Basic, Retail, and Services. Basic jobs include agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, communications, utilities, wholesale and military employment. Retail includes all retail trade including eating and drinking establishments. Services include finance, real estate, professional and technical jobs, management, administration, education, health care, social assistance, arts, entertainment, recreation, lodging, and government.
Overall distribution of employment based on these three groups is projected to remain similar to today, with a slight shift in distribution from retail to service jobs. Figure 4 shows the regional job distribution by sector group in 2012 and 2040.
While all sector groups are expected to grow over time, service jobs are expected to grow the fastest (61 percent), followed by basic (38 percent), then retail (15 percent). The shift towards a larger share of service jobs is led by growth in education and health-related jobs. Increases in basic employment are fueled primarily by the construction industry, which will continue to recuperate jobs lost during the recession and respond to the demands of new growth.
To access the 2040 socioeconomic forecast visit the DASZ datasets page.