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State’s population is skewing older

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s population is skewing older, but not for the same reasons pushing up the median age in the rest of the nation.

All but one state, North Dakota, clocked a rising median age for residents — mostly because of longevity and decreasing birth rates, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median age is the age at which equal numbers of people are above it and below it.

But there’s an additional reason that adds to New Mexico’s higher median age: young people leaving.

“Another contributing factor unique to NM, at least relative to our neighbors, is that we are experiencing out migration among the working-age population and minors,” said Jacqueline Miller, a senior research scientist with the University of New Mexico’s Geospatial and Population Studies department.

New Mexico’s median age in 2010 was 36.7, and the most recently released data show it was 37.8 in 2017.

Nationally, the median age of the population in 2010 was 37.2 and 38 most recently.

While the country and states overall are aging, some county-level populations are gaining young people.

The Census Bureau said in a news release last week that almost 1 in 5 counties in the nation are getting younger.

And a swath of counties in the Midwest has skewed younger, a trend the Census Bureau says tracks with migration of Hispanic residents.

“The nation’s Hispanic population is young, with a median age of 29.3 compared with 38.0 for the country as a whole. Given that, it is no surprise that the median age is declining in counties with increasing Hispanic populations — especially if the median age was relatively high to begin with,” the bureau said in a news release.

In New Mexico, five counties are registering a younger population: Los Alamos, Luna, Guadalupe, Otero and Eddy counties.

But that isn’t necessarily attributed to Hispanic migration.

In New Mexico, the median age of the Hispanic population statewide was the same in 2010 as it was in 2017: 30.3. And the Hispanic population in Guadalupe County, one of the counties skewing younger, actually dropped between 2010 and 2017.

A recent report released from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that New Mexico’s population has grown at the slowest rate in the western U.S. during the past decade, with more people migrating away from the state than arriving, according to the Associated Press.