The population in San Miguel County dropped by 7 percent and the population in Mora County dropped by around 14 percent in the past 10 years, according to recently released data from the 2020 Census.
According to the data, San Miguel County now has a population of 27,201. That represents a 7.5 percent decrease from 2010 Census data, when the population was 29,393 people.
The drop is similar in Mora County, where the population is now 4,189 people. That is a 14.1 percent decrease from 2010, when the population was 4,881.
Statewide, New Mexico saw its population grow by approximately 2 percent, mostly thanks to urban population growth in areas like Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.
Populations across the country grew by just over 7 percent in the last decade, which is the slowest growth in the United States since the 1930s, according to Marc Perry, demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division, at a press conference earlier this month.
Perry said that the declining populations were “more pronounced at the county level,” thanks to a shift away from rural areas that became even more pronounced over the past 10 years.
The population of Bernalillo County grew by 2.5 percent in the past 10 years, but between 2000 and 2010, the county experienced a population increase of 19 percent. Likewise, Santa Fe County grew by 4.2 percent in the past decade, while the 2010 data show the county grew by 11.5 percent.
Besides population, other numbers stand out as particularly troubling for San Miguel and Mora Counties.
Though the data was mostly compiled prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one number that stands out is the relatively low number of households with Internet access. In San Miguel County, only 56.9 percent of people said they have Internet service, while only 54 percent of Mora County reported having access to the Internet. For contrast, nearly 83 percent of the United States has Internet service.
The poverty rate in this area also continues to be of concern. Nearly 24 percent of San Miguel County lives in poverty, according to the census, while just over 21 percent of Mora County lives below the poverty line. The average household income in San Miguel County is just below $31,000 per year, while it is just below $28,500 in Mora County. Across the United States, the median household income currently stands at nearly $63,000.
On a positive note, the number of people in New Mexico without health insurance continues to decline. In 2010, the percentage of uninsured Americans was 17.7 percent, with uninsured New Mexicans at 22.6 percent. The 2020 Census reports that the percentage of uninsured Americans is down to 9.5 percent, and the percentage of uninsured New Mexicans is at 12 percent.
The census data also showed that the local areas continue to sag behind the national average in regards to young people, with only 17 percent of both San Miguel and Mora counties being below the age of 18, compared to a 22 percent national average. This area also has a higher percentage of people 65 and older. Nearly 29 percent of Mora County, and nearly 23 percent of San Miguel County is over 65, compared to a 16.5 percent national average.
The census data will also be used for redistricting purposes, which could affect both counties given their population declines, but that exact data will be released at a later date.