ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The U.S. Census Bureau just released new migration estimates showing which locations gained residents and which saw residents leave. Bernalillo and Lea County are New Mexico’s biggest losers in terms of population, according to the new data.

Bernalillo County lost a net total of 2,188 people from July 2020 to July 2021, the data reveals. Roughly 35% of that decrease is due to so-called “natural change” — a declining birth rate. Some of the change is due to migration.

More than 2,000 people moved out of Bernalillo County to somewhere else in New Mexico or another state, the data shows. At the same time, 614 people moved into the county from outside the U.S.

Lea and Eddy County, in the southeast corner of the state, also saw a relatively large number of people migrate away. The majority of those who left stayed within the county.


Story Continues Below

Bernalillo, Lea, and Eddy County saw the largest domestic migration numbers from 2020 to 2021. Data U.S. Census Bureau.


The majority of New Mexico counties saw a relatively small amount of migration. Sandoval County, however, saw an inflow of more than 2,000 people. The majority of those came from within the U.S.

While the number of people who left Bernalillo County roughly matches the number that migrated into Sandoval County, the Census data doesn’t give enough information to determine if those that entered Sandoval County are the same people that left Bernalillo County. But, it’s likely that at least some of them are  — after all, they are neighboring counties.

Births and Deaths

Across the country, around three-quarters of U.S. counties saw natural decreases in population, according to the Census Bureau. Natural population changes take into account the difference between births and deaths in a given area.

When the differences are mapped out across the U.S., the data reveals regions where populations are changing. In the Midwest, for example, 33% of states had more deaths than births from July 2020 through June 2021.


Story Continues Below

Where Counties are Growing

Overall, the data reveals that the Midwest lost population in many areas. The Mountain West region, on the other hand, saw some population gains. Utah, Nevada, and Idaho in particular had many counties where the population increased from 2020 to 2021.

COVID-19, of course, impacted population counts over that period. In 2021, patterns in population driven by births and deaths seem to contrast previous years, according to the Census. For example, over the last 10 years, only 18% to 55% of New Mexico’s counties saw a natural decrease in population. In 2021, 76% of counties saw more deaths than births, Census data shows.

The New Mexico Department of Health has tallied more than 7,000 deaths in New Mexico from COVID-19. So, it’s no surprise that the pandemic impacted Census counts of population. But provisional data from 2021 also suggests that births declined at the same time, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In New Mexico, the annual birth rate dropped by 2.98% in 2021, the data shows. And while that’s a greater drop than the previous two years, the state’s birth rate has been falling for the last decade.