NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A newly released report found that families of color, Hispanic families in particular, have been hit hardest by income losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That was one of the many findings highlighted in the 2021 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book which was released on Wednesday, Jan. 19 in a virtual press conference during the legislative session.

This annual data set highlights child well-being in New Mexico and tracks multiple indicators across four areas including economic security, education, health, and family and community. A news release from New Mexico Voices for Children, the nonprofit that publishes the KIDS COUNT Data Book, reports that indicators include issues like child poverty and food insecurity rates, parental employment and education levels, as well as teen birth rates.

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The report is released towards the start of each year’s legislative session in an effort to give lawmakers insight into the needs of the state’s children and families. This year’s Data Book included specific figures on the pandemic and recession.

Data from the report indicates that 28% of Hispanic households with children lost employment income. Additionally, New Mexico’s average unemployment rate was higher than the national average at 7.6% compared to 5.5%

At 41%, Hispanic households with children also had more difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the past week compared to other ethnicities and races such as non-Hispanic white households who came in at 27%.

New Mexico Voices for Children reports that most of the data still shows how children were doing before the pandemic with most indicators showing slight improvements or no change. However, the hardship data for 2021 and some 2020 data points to the serious impact of the pandemic on New Mexico children and families.

In their presentation to lawmakers, the nonprofit highlighted the report’s findings as a need to prioritize families in public policy. The organization highlighted the need to combat food insecurity in addition to providing economic relief to those still struggling.

They also indicated to provide help to families, assistance could be utilized through an extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage, fully funding programs that support children of color, and investing in early childhood education and care programs while also protecting their funding.

The nonprofit notes that while these data sets are not comparable with the rest of the data points within the report, many are from 2019 as 2020 data are limited as a result of the pandemic. New Mexico Voices for Children states that all the data are available at the state level however, some of the indicators, excluding the COVID-19 related data, including data on the county, tribal, and school district levels, and some are disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

The 2021 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book can be downloaded at