Census Data Mixed Bag: Poverty, Insurance Coverage Up in New Mexico

September 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE—New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau is a mixed bag for New Mexico. The bad news: more New Mexicans live in poverty and the median household income has fallen by nearly $2,000 a year. The good news: fewer New Mexicans—particularly children—lack health insurance.

“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, Research Director for New Mexico Voices for Children. “Most of the employment problem is due to the loss of 3,900 jobs in the public sector over the year—most of them in K-12 and higher education, which has impacted class sizes. The private sector is adding jobs, but very slowly,” he added.

Some of the gains in health insurance coverage can be attributed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has required private insurers to allow parents to cover their children up to age 26. “Even though the majority of the provisions in the federal health care reform don’t go into effect until 2014, it is clearly having a positive impact, particularly for young New Mexicans,” Bradley said.

New Mexico’s poverty rate rose from 18.8 percent in 2009-10 to 20.2 percent in 2010-11. Median household income fell from $46,018 in 2009-10 to $44,270 in 2010-11. Both the poverty rate and median income are computed on a two-year average basis. New Mexico has the second highest rate of poverty in the nation. Only Louisiana’s is higher.

The rate of New Mexicans without health insurance fell from 21.4 percent in 2010 to 19.6 percent in 2011. The rate of uninsured children fell from 14 percent to 9.9 percent in that same time frame. The ACA provision allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance policies went into effect in March of 2010.

“New Mexico can further reduce its rate of uninsurance by fully implementing the rest of the ACA—particularly the Medicaid expansion,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., NM Voices’ Executive Director. “An estimated 150,000 low-income New Mexicans will be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion at virtually no cost to the state. This expansion of health coverage will also create significant jobs in the health care sector and beyond. This is an opportunity that the state simply can’t pass up in good conscience,” she added.

Census data can be accessed at http://www.census.gov/#.

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New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. Our fiscal policy work is funded by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, the WK Kellogg Foundation, and the Working Poor Families Project. 2340 Alamo SE, Suite 120, Albuquerque, NM 87106-3523; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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