New Mexico Overview


New Mexico is, by its very nature, a land of scarcity. We indeed live in the desert, which means we do not have a drop of water to waste. But neither can we waste a drop of human potential to a failing school system, or lose a life prematurely to diabetes, or miss an opportunity to generate quality jobs that can lift our population from poverty to prosperity.

To address our scarcities, we have to face challenges in integrated ways. This report presents four sets of indicators – in education, health, economy and water – but New Mexico First firmly believes the issues are interdependent and closely linked. The rigor of education in our state directly influences the quality of healthcare, the vibrancy of the economy, and awareness of water or energy conservation. A family's financial well-being affects members' nutrition and children's ability to excel in school. And the availability of a safe and sustainable water supply underlies the entire state's economy and culture.

In addition to the issues being interrelated, so too are potential solutions and innovations. If we share information across disciplines, the strategies of patient-centered healthcare can apply to student-centered education. Workplace innovations that improve a company’s bottom line can boost the bottom line for struggling public schools. Long-range, strategic plans for economic development can inform and drive long-term education curriculum plans. Creative conservation mindsets that reduce water use can be applied to energy or economic savings.

How can New Mexico spark that type of collaborative innovation? How can we continue the important progress that courageous, hard-working people have been advancing for decades? By recalling that we may face a scarcity of water, math teachers, healthcare professionals or financial wealth, but we have no scarcity in courage, resilience, generosity or inventiveness. We are rich in natural resources and the deeply held wisdom of many cultures. If we believe we can make our state stronger, we will. Together, building on a web of connections, we can create a thriving oasis in our desert.

Figure 2-1. Intersections Between Policies 

Social Determinants

Another way to think about the intersection between policy areas is to focus on individual families. The conditions in which people live, sometimes called "social determinants,"  affects individuals' access to money, supports and other resources. Basic needs such as effective schools, healthy food, safe neighborhoods, transportation or economic opportunities shape our daily lives and contribute to our well-being.1

Population Demographics

State Population

New Mexico population growth slowed in recent years. The state population grew approximately one percent over the last five years, compared with three percent nationally.2 In 2013, population growth in New Mexico increased less than one-tenth of one percent from 2012, the fourth lowest population growth in the country.3 Our neighboring states all grew during the same time frame.

Limited population growth has positives and negatives. It might be a plus for utility planners supplying water for communities during recurring drought. However, a population that remains stagnant fails to bring in new people to spark innovation or contribute to the tax base that provides for the more vulnerable members of our state population.

Figure 2-2. Total Population, NM4
Figure 2-3. Total Population, Four Corners States5

Population by Race/Ethnicity

The United States is becoming increasingly diverse, and New Mexico particularly so. Unlike many states, even in the southwest, Whites comprise less than 50 percent of New Mexico’s population. The most predominant ethnicity is Hispanic. In addition, the state has a considerable Native American population, representing 23 federally recognized tribes, pueblos and nations.6 This mix of cultures and traditions is a point of pride for New Mexico.

Figure 2-4. Population by Race/Ethnicity, NM7

Hispanic Population

In every corner of the United States, the Hispanic population has grown fastest and accounts for more than half of the nation's population growth, driven by births and immigration. Hispanics now constitute 16 percent of the nation's total population and 47 percent of New Mexico's population.8 This demographic is highlighted because it is the population segment experiencing the greatest degree of change. In addition, there are notable disparities in education and health affecting Hispanics—illustrated later in this report—which potentially affect a larger portion of the overall population in NM compared to other states.

Figure 2-5. Hispanic Population, Four Corners States9

Changing Generations

New Mexico’s older population is growing in a manner that mirrors national trends. This number is expected to increase even more rapidly in the next decade with the aging of the “Baby Boomers.” Our population over 65 is projected to double in the next 20 years.10 This segment of society provides important skills and experience, but also needs adequate resources for support.

Figure 2-6. Aging Population, NM11

It in interesting to consider, however, that "Millenials" (18 to 34-year-olds) now outsize Baby Boomers as the largest living generation in New Mexico and the nation. They are also the most ethnically diverse. This young generation, like the Baby Boomers, brings many skills and also significant needs. Millenials are more likely than in previous years to hold a bachelor's degree or speak a second language, but are also more likely to be living with a parent or in poverty.12 

Rural Population

New Mexico is the country’s fifth largest state by land mass, comprising 121,298 square miles. However, the state has only four cities with a population of 50,000 or more. There are only 17.2 people per square mile, making New Mexico one of the nation's most rural states.13 Many of our residents must travel long distances to access basic needs such as grocery stores, supplies, medical services or jobs.

Figure 2-7. Rural Population, Four Corner States14

Revenue Sources and Expenditures

New Mexico operates on a comparatively small budget and receives a sizeable amount of revenue from federal grants. The following three charts illustrate overall revenue sources, a break-down of the industries whose taxes underlie our economy, and state expenditures.  

Figure 2-8. Revenue Sources, NM15
Figure 2-9. Revenue by Industry, NM 16
Figure 2-10. Expenses , NM17

Application of This Information

The data in this overview section does not measure progress. It simply illustrates who we are as a state, how we are changing, where we get our money, and how we spend it. This cross-cutting data informs all the subsequent progress indicators.

1World Health Organization. (n.d.) Social Determinants.

2NM Economic Development Department. (2014). New Mexico Demographics.

3NM Department of Workforce Solutions. (2015). A Report Highlighting New Mexico’s Current and Future Workforce.

4U.S. Census Bureau. (2010).    

5U.S. Census Bureau. (2014). Annual Estimates of the Resident Population.

6NM Department of Health. (2014). Health Equity in New Mexico: A Report on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 9th Edition.

7U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). American Community Survey 1-year Estimates.

8Reddy, S. (2011). Latinos Fuel Growth in Decade. The Wall Street Journal.

9U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Hispanic Or Latino Origin.

10NM Aging and Long-Term Services Department. (2009). New Mexico State Plan for Aging and Long-Term Services.

11NM Aging and Long-Term Services Department. (2009). New Mexico State Plan for Aging and Long-Term Services. U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). 2010 Demographic Profile Data.

12U.S. Census Bureau. (2014.) Population Projections.

13NM Department of Health. (2014). Health Equity in New Mexico: A Report on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 9th Edition.

14U.S. Census Bureau. (2000). Census of Population and Housing, Population and Housing Unit Counts PHC-3.

15Department of Finance and Administration. (2013). State of New Mexico Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Fiscal Year ended June 30 2013.

16Department of Finance and Administration. (2013). State of New Mexico Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Fiscal Year ended June 30 2013.

17Department of Finance and Administration. (2013). State of New Mexico Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Fiscal Year ended June 30 2013. Note: In the chart, "Education" includes programs in K-12, adult basic education, higher education, and state-mandated scholarships. "Educational institutions" includes operational funds for constitutionally established entities including the seven institutions of higher education plus the NM Military Institute and the state schools for the deaf and visually impaired.

Won’t you please support New Mexico First?

Some of Our Sponsors