Albuquerque’s Southwest Mesa has lots of young people.
In fact, more Millennials live in southwest Albuquerque than anywhere else in the city, save the University of New Mexico campus.
If you want to see for yourself, visit the Journal’s interactive map above that shows median age, income and other characteristics of Bernalillo County residents. The map uses data released by the American Community Survey, an ongoing statistical survey performed by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The maps show dramatic differences by region, with large majorities of Hispanic residents concentrated in southwestern Bernalillo County and large numbers of residents ages 45 and older in the Northeast Heights and the North Valley.
Many of the neighborhoods west of the Rio Grande and south of Interstate 40 sprang up in the early 2000s when the city issued up to 5,000 building permits a year, said Kendra Watkins, socioeconomic program manager for the Mid Region Council of Governments.
The youngest neighborhoods are located west of Coors SW, where median ages range from 21 to 31 – an age group often called Millennials.
“During the boom, young families that were just starting out sought affordable housing that they could qualify for and pursued their dream of owning a home,” Watkins said.
But many young families who beat a path to the Southwest Mesa have paid for their low-cost homes in ways they may not have foreseen, she said.
The area has been hammered by foreclosures since 2008. The map reveals that median income there ranges from $28,000 to $60,000 a year. In some areas, only a small minority have college degrees.
The Southwest Mesa offers special challenges to transportation planners, Watkins said.
“This is a big commuting pocket,” she said. “Because of the lack of employment opportunities in the southwest quadrant, people have to get in their cars and drive to work.”
A dearth of commercial development also requires residents to drive miles to shop, she said.
Transportation is second only to housing in terms of household costs, she said. “Transportation costs are not really considered when we talk about the price of housing.”
The Journal‘s interactive map reveals a very different story in Albuquerque’s far Northeast Heights.
Many census districts east of Wyoming and north of Montgomery show median household incomes exceeding $100,000 a year and a median ages of 40 or older. College graduates comprise a majority in many of those neighborhoods.
The far Northeast Heights experienced rapid low-density growth throughout the 2000s and a huge amount of commercial investment followed, Watkins said, resulting in an abundance of stores and restaurants, particularly along Paseo del Norte.
The Journal‘s map shows Bernalillo County’s diversity and the complexity of the problems facing urban planners, Watkins said.
“We have really, really diverse backgrounds and histories, and it’s going to take a diverse set of tools to combat some of our problems,” she said.
For a full-window view of this map, click here.