- Associated Press - Thursday, July 10, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A new report says more than half of the people who work in Santa Fe live outside the northern New Mexico city.

The report by economist Ashley Leach of the state Department of Workforce Solutions says the number of commuters grew to 51 percent in 2011 from 42 percent in 2002.

Albuquerque is the biggest source of commuters at 15 percent, followed by Rio Rancho at 7 percent, the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/1w5pmK0 ) reported.

New Mexico’s capital has long been known as a major commuting city in large part because of state government jobs.

While the report doesn’t explain why the number of people commuting to Santa Fe for work has gone up, the report’s findings are a concern to Santa Fe officials and civic leaders because of the dollars of spending that leave the city.

“Half of the people working here are not spending their wages here,” said Mike Loftin, executive director of Homewise Inc., a nonprofit that helps low- and moderate-income people purchase homes.

Simon Brackley, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, said it’s troubling that so much potential tax revenue is leaving the city. “That’s very, very significant in terms of financing our civic amenities,” he said.

Brackley said he would like the city to partner with other groups, including the chamber and the construction industry, on a campaign touting the advantages of living in Santa Fe.

“We have had a reputation as being an expensive place to live,” he said. “However, I think that reputation is out of date because since then, we’ve had a recession, we’ve had a pretty major correction in terms of home prices, we’ve had construction of apartments and other living alternatives here.”