ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Just when New Mexico’s largest city was basking in the glow of a recent report indicating the first decrease in overall crime in eight years, a report from WalletHub, the personal finance website, says New Mexico is the worst state in which to raise a family.
In making that determination, WalletHub, based in Washington, D.C., looked at five areas: family fun; health and safety; education and child care; affordability; and socio-economics.
Those areas were evaluated using 49 metrics, each of which was graded on a 100-point scale. WalletHub then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and to rank each state from first as best to 50th as worst.
According to the survey, New Mexico ranked 36th in the family fun category, 43rd in health and safety, 49th in education and child care, 45th in affordability and 50th in socio-economics.
In specific metrics, New Mexico was 30th in infant mortality rates; 47th in median family salary (adjusted for cost of living); 48th in violent crime rate; 49th in the number of families living in poverty; 34th in housing affordability; 49th in the unemployment rate; and 46th in the separation and divorce rate.
The state’s total score was a dismal 31.6. Ranked first in the nation, with a score of 65.32, was Minnesota.
In previous best-and-worst WalletHub surveys, New Mexico was ranked 43rd among states in which to have a baby, 37th for working moms, 48th for working dads, 34th for children’s health care and 51st among all states and the District of Columbia for school systems.
According to WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez, New Mexico “ranked poorly for several metrics, especially in the education, child care and socio-economic areas.”
“These, together with health, safety and affordability, are all categories where the state is lacking and could use improvement,” she said
The crime rate is extremely high in the state, and she suggested that local authorities increase school safety measures and encourage children “to participate in extracurricular activities and community service, which could improve graduation rates.”
Additionally, New Mexico should increase the number of child day care services and improve residents’ financial literacy, which would “contribute to lower debt levels and more people setting money aside for college and retirement.”
Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, said the WalletHub survey “underscores the need for all of us to continue focusing on education reform and public safety, two issues in our (chamber officials’) cross hairs that we’re working hard to improve.” The “good news,” she said, is that a number of organizations and government agencies are also focused on these issues.
While acknowledging that New Mexico has problems, Jim Garcia, vice president of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, said he was skeptical of WalletHub’s survey results.
New Mexico fares badly “because of the way they catalog and present their analytics,” he said. “It is my personal opinion that it could be skewed the exact opposite way if the questions were asked differently.”
Further, Garcia said, “I think their surveys get diluted after a while because they come out with one almost weekly, it seems, and they present themselves as experts on how the world works.”