On Monday, April 22, 2019, political blogger and reporter Joe Monahan posted on his blog “New Mexico Politcs With Joe Monahan” an article on New Mexico’s growth during the last 10 years.
The article is very insightful and revealing regarding New Mexico’s population growth and its overall impact and what it reveals does not bode well for the 2020 United States Census..
Below is the Monahan article followed by the link to “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” followed by further comment and analysis and two blog articles:
HEADLINE: NEW MEXICO POISED FOR SLOWEST DECADE OF POPULATION GROWTH IN STATE HISTORY; IMPACTS WEIGHED AND ANALYZED
“The decade of 2010-20 is poised to become the slowest for population growth in 107 years of state history, and the impact of that dubious milestone is felt in a broad swath of economic, social and political outcomes.
The latest stats from the US Census Bureau show that from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018 the Land of Enchantment has grown its population a mere 1.8 percent, from 2.059 million to 2.095 million.
According to Wikipedia, only the decade of the 60’s has seen slower state population growth. Back then it was still much higher at 6.9 percent and that was seen as a crash.
No one wants to Californicate New Mexico. Part of its charm is its uncrowded conditions but the state is not growing for the many menacing reasons your blog has outlined during the course of this decade–the lack of good-paying jobs; a slowing of federal funding for the national security and defense apparatus; an under educated work force; educated students fleeing the state for greener pastures and a horrific crime wave featuring record murder rates and rampant child abuse caused in large part by a drug epidemic spurred by growing poverty.
While the state grapples with a social conditions crisis that was mostly its own making but also attributable to global economic changes, one state official tried to spin the historic stagnation:
“I would say the state of New Mexico growing at a slower rate than other Western states is not necessarily a bad thing,” said Ryan Eustice, an economist at the New Mexico Economic Development Department. “This allows cities, counties and states to better plan for infrastructure, housing, job creation and education.”
Well, this trend is nearly a decade old so we’ve already had plenty of time to “better plan.”
Big BernCo County did not live up to that nickname in the latest Census numbers. Only 15 more people–that’s right 15–lived in the county in July of ’18 than July of ’17. Maybe they should all be honored at one of those Chamber of Commerce dinners.
The state’s fastest growing county in the Census year measured was Sandoval which is attracting neighboring ABQ residents to Rio Rancho where housing prices are more friendly.
LOSS EQUALS CHANGE
The state’s lost decade coincides with a rise in progressive/liberal politics in the muscular cities of ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces where more growth has taken place than the rural counties which have been hit hardest economically.
The state went from a swing state in federal elections in 2008 to nearly a “Safe Blue” state with Dems in 2018 taking all five slots in the NM congressional delegation.
The economy of the state this decade has been downsized as seen in the ABQ metro where payday loan stores have sprouted like dandelions after a good rain and where the low-paying service sector is becoming more economically dominant.
Some smaller impacts of the Great Stagnation are interesting to note. The restaurant scene has changed dramatically with white table cloth places nearly extinct (except in tourist heavy Santa Fe) and an explosion in pizza and hamburger joints has occurred and dot nearly every street corner in ABQ and elsewhere.
Upscale men’s and women’s clothing stores have mostly gone the way of the Dodo bird. Sure, folks dress up less than in the past but it is also a sure fire sign of the decimation of the well-paid professional classes here.
On the upside of the stagnation, traffic remains tame compared to most other western cities; the ABQ airport is almost never crowded; reservations are easy to get at restaurants that take them; visiting the great outdoors, including the national parks, is still a way to escape the masses, not join them and with the rise of Amazon the lack of retail growth and availability of products in a small city or state is no big deal. Anything can be shipped anywhere.
But the rub is that so much of the population that has stuck around is disenfranchised economically and educationally. The powers-that-be started to tackle that in the recent legislative session, but it will take years for any significant strides to register. Meantime, the state has grown more polarized, with the small wealthy population occupying shrinking patches of gated communities and utilizing private schools to avoid the hazards of public schools. New Mexicans don’t mix as much as they once did.
After the Great Recession started to take hold here, we often wrote that “you were going to see things that you never thought could happen.” Together we have and now we have seen another–a once booming Sunbelt state experiencing an historic decade of going nowhere fast. With apologies to the state’s official slogan, “It goes, but it does not grow.”
Below is the link to New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan:
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
The United States Population Count, or US Census, is taken every 10 years and is used to determine congressional representation, federal funding levels and much more. The census is extremely important when is comes to a poor state like New Mexico.
According to a recent Tax Foundation study, New Mexico is the third-most reliant state in the nation on federal funding, in terms of percentages of total state revenue. The federal government allocates approximately $7.8 billion annually in federal dollars for 16 programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, early childhood education.
According to Robert Rhatigan, the associate director of UNM’s, Geospatial and Population Studies program, every household that is not counted in the census represents a loss of about $100,000 in federal funding for the state. A major problem identified is that during the last 2010 census New Mexico had the nation’s second-lowest participation rate at 69%.
On April 24, 2019, Governor Michell Lujan Grisham announce the creation of the “Complete Count Commission” that will work with immigrant rights groups and tribal representatives in an attempt to increase the federal census participation rates in hard-to-count areas, especially rural and very hard to reach areas of the state.
The appointed “Complete Count Commission” will have up to 40 members and consist of cabinet secretaries, legislators, business leaders, tribal representatives and members of community-based organizations. The commission has been allocated $3.5 million for operation costs by the 2019 New Mexico legislature. The money allocated is for a census-targeted marketing campaign but the Governor had requested even more money from lawmakers, and she said that she might ask for more.
Given New Mexico’s pathetic participation rate of 69% in the 2010 census and New Mexico’s reliance on federal funding tied to our population, the Legislature needs to ensure that all New Mexico residents are counted and it should not hesitate for a split second to allocate sufficient funding for the Complete Count Commission.
What does not bode well for the state is the fact that the latest statistic from the US Census Bureau show that from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018 New Mexico’s population has grown a mere 1.8 percent, from 2.059 million to 2.095 million.
New Mexico needs to brace itself for bad news when it comes to the 2020 census that will affect federal funding. Way too much is at stake and the State needs to make sure that every person is in fact counted, especially in the rural areas of the state.
Below are links examining Albuquerque’s growth and development: