New Census data shows that poverty rates in New Mexico have increased significantly since 2000. About one fifth of the state’s population earned an income below the federal poverty line last year and more than 100,000 New Mexicans fell into poverty over the last dozen years.
Gerry Bradley, the Research Director for the social advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children, attributes the rise in poverty to the blow the labor market took after the housing bubble burst and the great recession set in. “Poor people are workers,” Bradley explained. “Poor families have people that are working, by and large. So if there are no jobs for them, the poverty rate is going to get worse.”
Bradley says the latest census data isn’t all bad news, though, as the poverty rate in 2012 was not significantly different than the year before. “We’re headed in the right direction, but haltingly,” he said.
According to Bradley the state’s private sector grew by about 8,000 over the same period jobs. However, the public sector lost around 4,000 jobs.