Populations in These 5 New Mexico Counties Are Plummeting

Written by Alyssa Shea
Updated: October 30, 2023
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New Mexico was established by 500 Spanish settlers and soldiers, founding the first Spanish settlement in 1598. Currently, there are over 2.1 million residents living in New Mexico. Reports say that the population of New Mexico in 2022 was 2,113,344, a 0.16% decline from 2021. One estimation is that 58,443 people moved out of New Mexico in 2022 alone. Let’s explore which counties saw their numbers decline the most.

1. Hidalgo County

Animas River

The Animas River crosses through Hidalgo County in New Mexico.

©sjlayne/iStock via Getty Images

Hidalgo County is the southernmost county located in New Mexico. Between 2020 and 2021, the population of Hidalgo County, NM, declined from 4,234 to 4,214, a 0.472% decrease. The numbers tell a story of a continuously decreasing local population. The county towns are Virden, Lordsburg, Cotton City, Animas, and Rodeo. This area of the state has two popular ghost towns, hiking, and beautiful panoramic views of the mountain horizons. Limited job prospects and growth potential, as well as the declining oil industry, are thought to be part of the reason for this decline.

Races:  

  • Hispanic (58.9%)
  • White (37.5%)
  • American Indian (1.3%)

Median Household Income:

  • $46,097

Median Property Value:

  • $94,400

Median Age:

  • 43.2 years

2. Torrance County

Pinto beans (frijol pinto), full frame

Several different farms are growing various produce in this area, with pinto beans, corn, alfalfa, and pumpkins.

©f2-8-Studio/iStock via Getty Images

Located at the heart of New Mexico, Torrance County is home to several different cities. This includes Estancia, Mountainair, Moriarty, Willard, Encinco, and McIntosh. This county is known for its agriculture, producing many different types of crops. The Manzano Mountains and Salinas National Monument are just a few reasons people are drawn to this area. Between the years 2020 and 2021, the population of Torrance County declined from 15,477 to 15,150, which is a 2.11% decrease. Smaller, rural counties like this are more likely to see population lower.

Races:

  • White (Non-Hispanic) 48.8%
  • White (Hispanic) 25.4%
  • Other (Hispanic) 11.1%

Median Household Income:

  • $44,819

Median Property Value:

  • $50,050

Median Age:

  • 42.9 years

3. Union County

Capulin Volcano National Monument - Hiking the Trail on Top

The Capulin Volcano National Monument has been a U.S. National Monument since August 9, 1916.

©scgerding/iStock via Getty Images

Along the northeast corner of New Mexico, you will find the beautiful area of Union County. This incredible spot borders the Colorado, Texas, and the Oklahoma panhandle. The area is most known for the Capulin Volcano National Monument and the Kiowa National Grassland, which attracts plenty of outdoor enthusiasts and hikers. Cities included in this county are Des Moines, Folsom, Capulin, Grenville, and Clayton. The population of Union County, New Mexico decreased by 2.5% between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022

Races:

  • White (Non-Hispanic): 51.2%
  • White (Hispanic): 31.5%
  • Other (Hispanic): 5.72%

Median Household Income:

  • $37,443

Median Property Value:

  • $93,800

Median Age:

  • 38.9 years

4. De Baca County

Map of De Baca in New Mexico

De Baca County is New Mexico’s second-least populous county.

©rbiedermann/iStock via Getty Images

Another rural, lesser-populated county can be found in De Baca County. A decline of 6.12% in population between 2020 and 2021 was noted, but an even more significant decrease happened between 2019 and 2020 when the population dropped 3.6%. Fort Sumner is the most notable city in this county, and the county only has 1,793 people. The most notable thing about this area is the fact that outlaw William Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid, was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881.

Races:

  • Hispanic: 61.3%
  • White: 35.6%
  • Black: 2.6%

Median Household Income:

  • $32,750

Median Property Value:

  • $133,100

Median Age:

  • 22.2 years

Mora County

Treasures of New Mexico

The Fort Union National Monument has remains from one of three forts that were constructed in 1851.

©Martina Roth/iStock via Getty Images

People head to Mora County to experience the great outdoors, thanks to the beautiful mountains and natural lakes. You can check out the historic Fort Union and spend time at the Cleveland Roller Mill Museum. There are a lot of cities within this county, with the most notable being Mora, Wagon Mound, and Watrous. In 2020, the population was 4,500, and in 2022, the population was 4,169. Some experts say that a lack of investment in infrastructure is a big reason for this decline.

Races:

  • Hispanic: 83.1%
  • White: 16.5%
  • Other: 0.4%

Median Household Income:

  • $37,549

Median Property Value:

  • $104,300

Median Age:

  • 56.6 years

Summary of Plummeting Populations in 5 New Mexico Counties

RankCounty
1Hidalgo County
2Torrance County
3Union County
4De Baca County
5Mora County

The photo featured at the top of this post is © TUBS / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License / Original


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About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

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