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The number of people moving from New Mexico increased almost four-fold during the 2012-2013 year. Rats leaving the ship? Maybe. Even the silvery minnow, that ever-endangered consumer of money in the mid-Rio Grande, is in more trouble than usual.
The silence from our so-called leaders is deafening.
The numbers are from the Census Bureau and are the most recent available. The rate calculation is mine. Births, deaths and moving provide the numbers adding to total population change. The sum of births and deaths are what the jargon calls “natural increase.”
The deaths part of natural increase has gotten closer the past few months. In addition to my mom leaving us last August, four friends lost parents in the past few months. A group worth passing mention and honor are the people who as young scientists and support people staffed the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos during World War II and, after the war, stayed and made New Mexico the world-class center of research for national security.
Six counties had too few births to offset the number of deaths during the 2010-to-2013 time. Sierra County led with a “negative natural increase” of 406. The others were Catron, Grant, Guadalupe, Quay and Union.
Moving is called “migration.” Moving can be international — from another country and into or out of the state — or “domestic” — into or out of the state from the United States. Moves in or out of a region tend to be for economic or family reasons, the Census Bureau says. Moves in the same city to another house or apartment don’t affect the population total.
Domestic movement is the most important when considering our economic health. International is significant in a few counties. Departures from the state totaled 13,500 for the year from July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013. (Numbers are rounded.) For the three year period from April 2010 to 2013, the departure total was 21,500. The most recent year accounted for almost two-thirds of the total departures. Calculator punching finds that about 3,600 people left during each of the previous two years.
Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the 2012-2013 departures came from three metro areas — Albuquerque, Doña Ana and San Juan. Sandoval County, one of metro Albuquerque’s four counties, lured almost 500 from outside the state, but the newcomers only somewhat offset the 3,230 leaving Bernalillo, Valencia and Torrance.
During the 2012-13 year, 3,000 people moved here from other places in the United States, making the net domestic migration total a negative 10,526. Had people moved at the same rate they moved to Colorado, which had positive migration of 36,284, domestic migration to New Mexico would have been 14,341.
Population growth in Lea and Eddy counties jumped the scale in 2012-13, when 2,150 people moved there, accounting for 90 percent of the migration gain. Including babies during the 2010-2013 period, the Lea County population grew 5.2 percent to 68,062. Eddy County, 2013 population 55,471, grew 3 percent.
Babies explain the state’s population growth of 26,100 (to 2.08 million) between 2010 and 2013. The 89,000 new babies were 36,000 more than the 53,000 deaths and were, in turn, offset by nearly 10,000 people moving away.
Our income reflects all this. For 2013, New Mexicans’ total personal income increased 1.7 percent. That placed 48th nationally. The 2013 inflation of 1.6 percent nearly consumed the increased earnings.
In dollar terms, transfer payments (welfare, social security, etc.) brought the largest dollar increase, more than double the increase in earnings for real work. Transfer payments are the bad kind of government dependence.
Though not directly economic, the Albuquerque police shootings debacle is icing on the social cake. Maybe it will get leaders’ attention.