Latinos were pivotal to the population growth in New Mexico in the last decade, increasing by 25% since 2000, according to a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund analysis of newly released Census 2010 data.
Between 2000 and 2010, while the state's overall population grew 13% from 1.8 million to 2.1 million, the Latino population grew from 765,386 to 953,403, and accounted for 78% of the state's population growth since 2000. Latinos now represent 46% of New Mexico's residents and are the largest population group. New Mexico is the only state in the nation where Latinos are a plurality of the residents.
"Without question, Latinos are a key part of our state's growth. These numbers show we will continue to play a larger and larger role in the state," said NALEO Educational Fund Board Member State AuditorHector Balderas.
The Census 2010 data also reveal that 58% of all New Mexicans under 18 are Latino, and that the New Mexico Latino population is significantly younger than the non-Latino population.
"Young Latinos are part of our state's future economic well-being," said NALEO Board Member State Senator John Sapien, Vice Chair of the Senate Education Committee. "We must make sure our state's policies advance the economic and civic progress of Latinos in order to ensure the future prosperity and well-being of everyone in our state."
In addition, figures show significant Latino populations in most of New Mexico largest cities, includingAlbuquerque (47%), Las Cruces (57%) and Santa Fe (49%). Additionally, the state's ten largest counties are home to 78% of the state's Latino residents.
"We are fortunate that the Latino community is an integral part of our state's history and its political process," said NALEO Board Vice President and former Deputy Secretary of State Don Francisco Trujillo. "The Latino community has an opportunity for full and fair representation as the state now undertakes the redistricting process."