New Mexico again had third-highest poverty rate in United States in 2021

State's national ranking has changed little over last several years

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

For the third year in a row, New Mexico posted the third-highest poverty rate among all 50 states in 2021, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in the American Community Survey.

The figures were included in the March edition of the New Mexico Labor Market Review published by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. The state’s average of 18.4% in 2021, the latest year for which data were available, was better only than that of Louisiana (19.6%) and Mississippi (19.4%). The national poverty rate was 12.8%, while New Hampshire had the lowest rate in the country at 7.2%.

New Mexico also had the third-highest poverty rate in the country for residents younger than 18 years of age at 23.9%. Mississippi was highest at 27.7%, and Louisiana was second at 26.9%. The national average was 16.9%, while Utah had the lowest percentage of children living in poverty at 8.1%.

The state was third in 2020 with a poverty rate of 16.8%, third in 2019 with a rate of 18.2%, second in 2018 with a rate of 19.5% and tied for second in 2017 at 19.7%.

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New Mexico also ranks among the worst in the nation for poverty among people age 65 and older. Its rate of 12.8% for 2021 was third among the 50 states, better only than Louisiana (14.1%) and Mississippi (13.8%).

Despite the state’s poor showing, there was good news for San Juan County in the data. It posted the second-lowest poverty rate in the state at 9.4%, trailing only Los Alamos County at 3.7%. San Juan County had the lowest poverty rate by far of any of the state’s four most-populous counties, with Santa Fe County ranking second at 12.3%, Bernalillo County third at 15.2% and Doña Ana County fourth at 19.3%. Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties also ranked third and fourth in the state for the lowest poverty rate.

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McKinley County posted the highest poverty rate in New Mexico at 30.3%, followed by Luna and Chavez counties at 27.6%, and Sierra County at 26.7%.

San Juan County also registered the second-lowest child poverty rate in New Mexico at 11.3%, trailing only Los Alamos County at 3.2%. Sierra County fared worst in the state, as more than half the children there — 50.2% — lived in poverty in 2021.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610

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