NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Over the last decade, New Mexico’s population has increased by only about 3%, or about 58,000 people, the most recent data from the 2020 census shows. The majority of the new residents are in Sandoval County, which saw a 13% increase in population with more than 17,000 new people. The data shows that New Mexico ranks among the top states for population diversity.
New Mexico is one of only two western states that saw less than a 5% increase in population since the 2010 census, the data reveals. Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and Utah all saw population increases of 10% or more. As a nation, the U.S. population grew by 7.4%.
“Since the 1950s, percentage increases [across the US] have generally been declining each decade,” said Marc Perry in a press conference, the senior demographer at the US Census Bureau’s Population Division. “This past decade’s 7.4% increase was lower than the previous decade’s 9.7% increase and was, in fact, the second-lowest percent increase ever. Only the 1930s had slower growth.” And “the slowdown in growth over the past 3 decades is even more pronounced at the county level,” Perry added.
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In New Mexico, several counties saw double-digit declines in population over the last decade. Data from US Census Bureau.
In the state, De Baca County had the largest percentage decrease in population since the last census. They only lost 324 people, but that resulted in a 16% decrease in population. Hidalgo County’s population decreased by 15%, and Mora County’s population went down 14%. The trend in New Mexico follows that seen across the country: small counties have tended to lose population more than large counties, according to Perry.
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On the other hand, most of the more populous counties in New Mexico have gained people since 2010. Eddy County saw the largest percentage increase of 16%. Lea and Sandoval counties gained 15% and 13% respectively. Of the top 10 most populated counties, only Valencia and Chavez county lost population.
On top of changes in the overall population, the new census data also reveals the racial and ethnic makeup of the US. “The U.S. population is much more multiracial and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past,” Director and Senior Advisor of Race and Ethnic Research and Outreach at the US Census Bureau, Nicholas Jones, said at the press conference. Across the US, “the Hispanic or Latino population numbered 62.1 million in 2020,” Jones added. That means nearly 19% of the US population is Hispanic or Latino.
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In New Mexico, every county has more than 10% of the population identifying as “Hispanic or Latino.” Data from US Census Bureau.
Naturally, New Mexico has a higher percentage of people identifying as Hispanic or Latino. Nearly 48% of New Mexico’s population is Hispanic or Latino. In some counties, that percentage increases to more than 75% of the population. At 79%, Mora County has the largest percentage of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino. McKinley has the lowest at 12% of the population.
The census shows that New Mexico is one of the most diverse states in the U.S. The Census Bureau’s Diversity Index, which measures “the probability that two people chosen at random will be from different race and ethnic groups,” reveals that New Mexico ranks near the top of the list of most diverse states. Within New Mexico, San Juan, Cibola, and Sandoval are the most diverse counties. Only 36.5% of New Mexico’s population identifies as “White alone,” and not Hispanic or Latino.
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Every county in New Mexico saw a decrease in the percent of the population identifying as “White alone.” Data from US Census Bureau.
The newest data reveals that less of New Mexico’s population identifies as “White alone” than a decade ago. Every county saw a decline in the percentage of the population that identifies as “White alone.” Lea County saw the largest decrease: In 2010, 75% of the county identified as “White alone;” in 2020, only 46% of the county identified as such.
Detailed population counts also aid the states as they redraw district lines to ultimately see which politicians are elected to represent which communities. Here in New Mexico, the process happens once every 10 years — and it’s happening right now — meaning that the political lines being drawn now will affect New Mexicans for at least the next decade. Of course, ensuring a detailed picture of the state, the census data helps the New Mexico legislature and redistricting committee know whom the lines are being drawn for.