College enrollment also in decline, contrary to past recessionary trends

Sept. 30, 2014

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505 

ALBUQUERQUE—The share of teens and young adults in the workforce has declined over the past two decades in New Mexico—a trend that is consistent with other states in the mountain region and the U.S. as a whole. Even though New Mexico is in sync with workforce trends for teens and young adults, the state has some of the lowest labor force participation and unemployment rates, and employment-to-population ratios for this demographic.

These data are part of a new report, “The State of Working New Mexico 2014,” released today by New Mexico Voices for Children.

“New Mexico’s workforce is older and better educated than it was in 1990. While that sounds like a positive development, it is bad news for younger, less educated workers who are being left behind,” said Gerry Bradley, who authored the report and is the Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst with the child advocacy organization. “Our share of workers who are over age 55 has grown significantly, while the share of workers in their prime earning years has fallen.

The report points to two other disturbing trends for the state’s and nation’s young workers: the share of teens and young adults in the workforce declined even during the economic expansion of the 2000s, and college enrollment rates for those under age 25—which usually increases during the recession—dropped between 2012 and 2013.

“In order for New Mexico’s economy to be strong, the state needs to do a better job of ensuring that teens and young adults have the educational and job training opportunities they need in order to be employable,” said Veronica C. García, Executive Director of NM Voices. “Replacing the money that was diverted from the College Affordability Fund and making the Lottery Scholarship need-based would help more New Mexicans earn college degrees, which would make our state more attractive to businesses.”

Those and other policy recommendations from the report were presented to the Legislative Finance Committee at a hearing last week in Santa Fe. Policy recommendations from NM Voices’ report on career pathways, which was released earlier this month, were also presented.

“The State of Working New Mexico 2014: Teenagers and Young Adults in the State’s Workforce” is available online at:

The previously released report, “Strengthening New Mexico’s Workforce and Economy by Developing Career Pathways,” is available online at: