Rate of people leaving New Mexico increases

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By Harold Morgan

“Vital events” explain changes in New Mexico’s population since the 2010 census. The particular vital events are births and deaths. Such events are indeed vital and it seems unusual that jargon — the words are technical words in the population-counting world — would fit the real world.
The short version of our population news is that since mid-2011 more people have been leaving for other places in the United States than have been moving here from other places. The term is “net domestic migration.” We have “negative net domestic migration.”
Maybe it should be called NNDM. We do need more acronyms. Or not.
We had positive domestic migration of about 2,200 from the April 2010 census through mid-2011. The 2011-2012 stream of departures, around 7,500, turned the total negative. The following year, 2012-2013, the departure total grew by about a third, to more than 10,000.
Another way to consider the recent rate of departure is that two-thirds of 15,500 people leaving between 2010 and 2013 left in the year between 2012 and 2013.
Rats leaving the ship? Hardly. Just people being sensible.
I lack specifics about the departures, but one can guess. I see three groups, starting with young people such as my daughter, seeking opportunity. Then there will be families with the adults looking for opportunity and a decent educational system for their children. And finally, retirees.
It does work the other way, though not enough to turn the domestic migration total positive. The example as I write is a couple of academic retirees returning to Albuquerque from Denver.
In the population change game, just two states managed to lose population from the census through mid-2013. They are Maine and Rhode Island. Maine had a slight gain from migration, but the net of vital events wiped it out. More people died in Maine than were born.
Our job performance provides a big clue about why people might look elsewhere for work or simply quit looking. From November 2012 to November 2013, according to preliminary figures from the state Department of Workforce Solutions, the state added 1,700 wage jobs on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The percentage gain was 0.2 percent, which translates to almost nothing.
For December, the year-over-year gain almost doubled — to 3,000 jobs added since December 2012. Sectors with more jobs over the year include finance (+3,100); leisure and hospitality, i.e., tourism (+1,500); mining (+1,200); professional and business services, i.e., lawyers, engineers, accountants, computer dudes (+500).
Another explanation for leaving comes from a map showing children from low-income families in McKinley County as among the least likely to move up in the income distribution ranks.(See equality-of-opportunity.org.)
The 14 members of the negative net migration club are states where more people left for other states than came from other countries. We should get a special award for losing more (in number, not percent) than three
more-populous states, namely Connecticut, New Jersey and Wisconsin.
We do gain people from outside the country, which is called “net international migration.” The rate has dropped. Approximately 5,800 came between 2010 and 2013. For the 27 months between April 2010 and mid-2012, the average was 156 per month. For the recent year, the average was 143.
Babies are why New Mexico failed to join the Maine-Rhode Island dropping-population club. For the time between 2010 and mid-2013, about 89,000 babies appeared and some 53,000 people died, for a net from those vital events of 36,000 more New Mexicans.
The vital events and all the net migration turned into an estimated population of 2,085,287 as of July 1, 2013. It’s all the result of people making choices, realizing that sunsets don’t pay the bills.