The 6 Fast-Growing Counties in New Mexico Are Exploding in Growth

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: November 20, 2023
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New Mexico is a state in the Southwest with beautiful landscapes and unique cultures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population in the state is dropping. In 2020, New Mexico had a population of 2,117,527, but it fell to 2,113,344 in 2022. However, some counties are still growing in population. Discover the fast-growing counties in Mexico that are experiencing growth and find out where they are and why they’re growing.

The information for this article comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 to 2022 county estimates. Using this data, we can identify the fastest-growing regions in the state and, perhaps, find some trends that explain the reasons for the growth.

6. Luna County

Population IncreasePercent Gain

Luna County is located in the southwestern part of the state. The southern area of this county shares a border with Mexico.

The population in Luna County in 2020 was 25,422 people. However, that number climbed to 25,749 people by 2022. This is a small population gain of 327 people. The increase is equal to a 1.29% increase in the population.

With such a small change in population, why did Luna County make the list? As it turns out, most of New Mexico’s counties shrank in population. So, while this region is hardly fast-growing for the state, it’s one of the few places that saw noticeable growth in New Mexico at all.  

5. Santa Fe County

"Oldest Town" infographic for Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Museums, famous artworks, a 400-year-old plaza, fabulous food, and more are in Santa Fe.
Population IncreasePercent Gain

Santa Fe County is in the central part of the state. The region is home to the state capital, Santa Fe, a city that is also the county’s most populous area. This county is east and northeast of Albuquerque.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Santa Fe County had 154,823 residents. The number of people living in this county rose to 155,664 people in 2022. That represents an increase of 841 people, equal to 0.54%. Again, this is not a huge rise in population, especially with Santa Fe in the area.

4. Otero County

White sands national park

Part of the White Sands National Park falls within the borders of Otero County.

© Kopka

Population IncreasePercent Gain

Otero County is another southern county in New Mexico. This region is well-known for having part of the White Sands National Park within its borders. This county also shares a border with the state of Texas to the south.

Otero County had 67,843 people living within its borders in 2020. The area’s population rose to 68,823 in 2022, an increase of less than 1,000 people, but still a significant increase for a state that is currently losing people. The population in Otero County rose by 1.44% or 980 people. That is a fair amount of growth for an area that started with such a small population.

3. Valencia County

Population IncreasePercent Gain

Valencia County is south of Albuquerque, and the Rio Grande runs right through the middle of the region. Los Lunas, a village in the county, has the highest population of any area.  

Valencia County’s population in 2020 was 76,205 people. This population jumped a fair amount in 2022, reaching 78,080 people. This increase in population made this area a fairly fast-growing county in New Mexico, but it did not have the greatest growth of any county. The population in Valencia County rose by 1,875 people, and that is a very large increase of 2.46%.

2. Doña Ana County

Population IncreasePercent Gain

Doña Ana County is to the west of Otero County, and it also contains a portion of the White Sands National Park. The southern part of this county shares a border with both Texas and Mexico.

During the 2020 Census, Doña Ana County had 219,567 people living within its borders. The county’s population grew to 223,337 people, an increase of 3,680 people. This change is equal to a 1.67% rise in population in the area.

This is a sizable increase in the number of residents in the area, and the second largest in the state overall.

1. Sandoval County

Population IncreasePercent Gain

Sandoval County is just north of Albuquerque, and it stretches far to the north. This county has the fourth largest population of any in New Mexico. This region is known for its mountains and nature preserves.

Sandoval County is the leader in fast-growing counties in New Mexico. The population in Sandoval County in 2020 was 148,829. In 2022, the population grew to 153,501 people, a big increase. The population increased by 4,672 people, and that is equal to 3.13%. That is the largest overall growth and percent growth of any county in the state.

A question remains after looking at this data. Why are people moving to these counties? Places like Sandoval County and others that are near Albuquerque could have benefitted from the people leaving the city. The population of Albuquerque is falling, so people could simply be moving to other places nearby.

Many of the other fast-growing counties in the state are located along the border with Texas and Mexico. They could be individuals migrating to the country or individuals relocating within the state. New Mexico’s population is dropping by a small amount rather than a large one. So, it is difficult to draw any conclusions about the reasons that the population in the state is changing on a county-by-county basis.

Summary of the Fastest-Growing Counties in New Mexico

RankCountyPopulation Gain
1.Sandoval County4,672
2.Doña Ana County3,680
3.Valencia County1,875
4.Otero County980
5.Santa Fe County841
6.Luna County327

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Zoomi365/

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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