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Poor Kids

Indicators: Nov. 23

November 23, 2011, 12:00 am

153,000 is the approximate number of children in New Mexico who live in poverty.

32% is the share of Santa Fe children living under the poverty line.

"I’m from New Mexico. I hate these kind of statistics."

—Pauline Núñez, data services employee at the US Census Bureau in Denver

Only Mississippi and the District of Columbia have higher proportions of poor children than New Mexico, according to 2010 US Census data. 

The number, the latest in a long list of depressing New Mexico statistics, comes as a part of the census’ annual American Community Survey. The ACS measures demographics deemed too important to measure just once every 10 years. They include income rates, gender proportions, education levels and health coverage.

“It’s one of the biggest surveys we do,” Núñez tells SFR. “In 2005, we got the funding to do it because states wanted annual data on a lot of things.”

Poverty falls under these annual measures, and in New Mexico, things aren’t looking good. From 2009-2010, the number of New Mexico children living in poverty grew by more than 25,000, or almost 5 percent. In total, 30 percent of the state’s children live in poverty.

Santa Fe isn’t doing any better. Approximately 4,200 of the city’s 13,000 children live below the poverty line. That’s 32 percent, enough to exceed the state’s already dismal rate.

To calculate the poverty level, the census compares a family or person’s annual income with cost of living. Poverty officially kicks in when someone’s cost of living exceeds before-tax annual income. 

New Mexico is one of 10 states with at least a quarter of their children living in poverty. Aside from New Mexico and Texas, eight of them lie in the South.

In the above chart, areas with the highest percentage of children living in poverty appear are colored dark purple; areas with the lowest percentage appear in light blue.



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