Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week paint a picture of Santa Fe that is older than the rest of New Mexico. The City Different is also more female, Hispanic, prosperous, educated, international and wired than the state as a whole.
The median age in the city averaged 43.3 years old from 2014-18, according to American Community Survey (ACS) data compiled by the Census Bureau. That’s down slightly from 44.5 years old in the previous five-year period covered by ACS data. New Mexico’s overall median age is 37.5.
Despite a declining median age, the percentage of Santa Fe’s population that is 65 or older increased to 21.6% in the latest five-year period, up from 19.6% during the previous ACS survey.
The ratio of male/female residents in Santa Fe is not good news for straight women trying to find their soulmate, or even a date for Saturday night. According to the ACS data, 52.2% of Santa Fe’s residents are women and 47.8% are men.
By contrast, the female/male ratio for the state’s 2,092,434 residents (the average over the five years ended in 2018) is 50.5% to 49.5%.
Of the City Different’s female residents 15 and older, 20.9% report being divorced versus 14.3% for state residents with the same characteristics.
Some 55% of the city’s residents identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino, compared with 48.5% for New Mexico as a whole.
Only 2% of Santa Fe residents identified as Native American in the five-year period covered by the survey, compared with 9.6% for the state.
African Americans make up only 1.1% of Santa Fe’s population and just 2.1% of the New Mexico’s residents.
Nearly a third of Santa Fe’s population (32.6%) reported to the Census Bureau that they speak Spanish at home, versus 27.3% for all New Mexicans.
In Santa Fe, 41.4% residents are graduates of a four-year college, compared to 27.1% for New Mexico overall.
That education gap may be the reason Santa Fe residents earn more than their counterparts in other parts of the state.
The median income for a Santa Fe household is $56,262, compared to $48,059 for the typical New Mexican household.
Compared with the rest of the state, Santa Fe has a greater percentage of transplants. The percentage of Santa Feans who were born in the Land of Enchantment is 44.2% versus 53.8% for New Mexicans as a whole. While 89.3% of the state’s residents were born in the U.S., this is true for only 83.5% of the City Different’s population.
Santa Feans like their computers. While 83.8% of New Mexicans reported having a computer during the five-year period ending in 2018, 87.3% of Santa Fe residents did. While 72.3% of New Mexicans reported having internet access at home, 80.2% of Santa Feans did.
Some characteristics Santa Feans share with their fellow New Mexicans show up in the ACS data about transportation and families.
Among New Mexicans, 80.2% reported driving to work in a vehicle compared to 79.2% of Santa Feans. Only 1.2% of Land of Enchantment residents said they used public transportation to commute to their jobs, while 1.5% of Santa Fe residents do.
A striking 47% of New Mexico’s grandparents said they were responsible for their grandchildren. In Santa Fe, that number was 42%, less than the state figure, but still quite high. The national average is 34.8%.
The City Different has grown in the past five years. From 2010-14, the city’s population averaged 69,245, according to the Census data. That compares with an annual average of 83,847 from 2014-18.
Most of the increase, though, appears to have come from annexation of county territory that added an estimated 13,200 people to the city’s population as of Jan. 1, 2014.
For those who think housing is getting pricier, rents have in fact gone up over the past five years, but the value of owner-occupied housing declined slightly in the same period. The median rent in Santa Fe was $1,043 from 2014-18, compared with $950 during the previous five-year period.
The median value of owner-occupied housing units in Santa Fe was $270,700 from 2014-18 versus $276,500 over the previous five years, although realtors have reported booming home prices over the past couple of years.
Rental costs are eating up a bigger chunk of paychecks for a lot of people. From 2010-14, 35.3% of city residents paid more than 35% of their income for rent. In the past five years, that percentage had risen to 39%.
The average vacancy rate for housing rentals of all kinds in Santa Fe during the five years ended in 2018 was 7%. By contrast, from 2010-14, Santa Fe’s vacancy rate averaged 6.7%, according to the last ACS data dump back in 2014.
City leaders, including Mayor Alan Webber, have made increasing housing, including rental units like apartments, a major priority.
The five-year ACS data dump may contain interesting nuggets of information to impress friends at cocktail parties, but its real value is in helping policymakers decide how to allocate government money, and to shed light on differences in income, education and other areas among various demographic groups.