ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s population grew by 2.8% over the last decade, making it one of the slowest growing states in the West, according to the first numbers released Monday from the 2020 census. The Census Bureau said that overall, the national growth rate of 7.4% between 2010 and 2020 was the second slowest in U.S. history.
In the West, only Wyoming had a slower growth rate than New Mexico, where the count put the resident population at just over 2.1 million. That included 58,343 more people than a decade ago but not enough to gain an additional congressional seat. Neighboring Texas and Colorado gained seats as a result of their population increases.
The data was limited to population numbers only. Information about race and other demographics will be released later this year, officials said.
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New Mexico last spring launched a multimillion-dollar campaign in an effort to ensure an accurate census count of its heavily Hispanic and Native American population.
New Mexico is one of the most difficult populations to accurately count, according to a comprehensive examination from the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York. Census estimates also projected that roughly 43% of New Mexico’s population — about 900,000 people — live in “hard-to-count” areas.
Census officials reiterated during a news conference Monday that they were confident in the data despite the challenges of counting that stemmed from the coronavirus pandemic.
The New Mexico Legislature set aside $3.5 million for grants for all 33 counties to establish and staff complete count committees. Tribes and the state Public Education Department also were tapped as part of the outreach efforts, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that drew on members of her Cabinet and advocacy groups to encourage participation.
The governor’s office has estimated the state receives about $7.8 billion annually from the federal government based on census counts to underwrite health care, educational programs, transportation, housing and more. The governor and others had warned that even a 1% undercount could translate into more than $700 million in lost federal revenues over a decade.
According to the state’s complete count committee, each resident not counted equates to a loss of a $3,745 per year. The results also influence how legislative districts are drawn to ensure political representation. That redistricting process will ramp up later this year.