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New Mexico goes over 2 million population mark

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By Tim Korte

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Congratulations, New Mexico. U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday show the state's population has grown to more than 2 million residents in the last decade.

The 2010 Census data listed New Mexico's population at 2,059,179 residents, reflecting a 13.2 percent increase over the population in 2000, which was 1,819,046.

While the growth wasn't enough to help New Mexico secure a fourth seat in the U.S. House, the state won't lose any seats, either.

The population growth rate over the past decade was slower than it has been historically and one of the lowest in state history. By contrast, New Mexico saw a 20.1 percent population increase from 1990 to 2000, 16.3 percent from 1980 to 1990 and 28.2 percent from 1970 to 1980.

"We're seeing a slower rate of growth than in past decades, but that is similar to the nation as a whole and in many other states," Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff said.

Sanderoff said for New Mexico and the nation, that's mostly because the economy has slowed in recent years.

If there's a silver lining in the New Mexico data, Sanderoff said it's that the 13.2 growth rate was higher than the 10.5 percent figure the Census Bureau had projected.

"So our growth rate is a little higher than expected," he said.

The United States population grew by 9.7 percent to 308.7 million.

Neighboring states saw increases, with Texas gaining four House seats after a 20.6 percent growth rate over the past 10 years increased its population to more than 25,145,000. Arizona gained a seat, too, with a 24.6 percent growth rate that pushed the state's population to more than 6,390,000 residents.

The 13.2 percent rate of increase in New Mexico followed a trend that showed 13.8 percent growth among Western states.

The next round of Census data, to be released beginning in February, will detail population and race breakdowns to the neighborhood level. That information is used to help states redraw congressional boundaries and legislative districts.