In addressing the COVID-19 as the health crisis it is, it is critical that New Mexicans also support the health of our economy. We should make every effort to support our local businesses in unique ways – ordering take- out, purchasing gift cards and services remotely. However, the easiest way for New Mexicans to help our economic future is to complete the 2020 U.S. Census.
Today, New Mexico’s economy is getting squeezed in all directions. Oil prices have plummeted, and small businesses are suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many New Mexicans unemployed. While New Mexico tries to weather these challenges, the third leg on our state’s economy’s stool, federal funding, may also be in jeopardy. New Mexico is reliant on about $7 billion of federal funding – funding that is based on the U.S. Census. At a time where many of us feel helpless in facing these tremendous problems, the census is the one area where we have individual control.
This last legislative session, the governor secured additional funding for census outreach to ensure every New Mexican is counted. However, because of COVID-19 pandemic, direct outreach may be difficult to navigate. That is why the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce is urging all New Mexicans to complete the census, either by mail or online, and personally encourage and help their friends, family members and neighbors to do the same.
Ten years ago New Mexico was last in the nation in the census count, jeopardizing more than $7 billion in federal programs and countless jobs each year at our three national laboratories, three Air Force bases and miles of beautiful public lands. New Mexico is more reliant on federal funding than any other state in the union and will be even more dependent, given the unprecedented economic struggles we are facing today.
For each person the census does not count, New Mexico may lose $3,745 per year. The loss of this funding will lead to increased unemployment, diminished resources for our schools and a decrease in countless federally funded services and programs, crippling our economy. For example, Medicaid in New Mexico, which the federal government funds at more than $4 billion per year, could lose up to $32 million each year for the next 10 years without a proper count. An undercount could also lead to New Mexico losing one of our three congressional seats, giving New Mexico less representation in Washington.
While most of us are staying at home and social distancing, it is critical we take a moment and complete the census. The $7 billion in federal funds that New Mexico receives each year supports thousands of jobs and economic opportunities throughout our state. During these uncertain times for public health and our economy, we must all come together to do what we can to support the health of our local economy. Please respond to the census and help secure federal dollars for New Mexico. Our state’s economy simply has too much to lose if you don’t.