Census: Poverty rate up in New Mexico

Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — More New Mexicans are living in poverty and nearly a fifth of the state's population lacks health insurance, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

The poverty rate in New Mexico was 20.2 percent in 2010-2011 compared with 18.8 percent in 2009-2010. The state's median household income dropped during the same time.

"The increase in poverty and the decrease in household income can be attributed to New Mexico's slow recovery from the national recession," said Gerry Bradley, an economist and research director for New Mexico Voices for Children, a social services advocacy group in Albuquerque.

In its Current Population Survey, the federal agency provides two-year averages for evaluating changes within a state because a relatively small sample of households from across the country is used for making the annual national estimates of poverty and income.

The poverty rate was 15 percent nationwide in 2011. In New Mexico, 451,000 people were estimated to be living in poverty last year or 22.2 percent of the population. That was the highest percentage nationally.

New Mexico historically has hovered near the top of poverty and uninsured rankings.

In 2010-2011, only Louisiana's poverty rate of 21.3 percent exceeded New Mexico.

About 399,000 New Mexicans were without health insurance last year, or 19.6 percent of the population. Texas, Nevada and Louisiana had higher rates.

The state had a median household income of $44,270 in the most recent two-year period, compared with $46,108 in 2009-2010.

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