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Population in RR shows less growth

As the number of residents in Rio Rancho has occasionally increased, and more often slowed down in the last decade, the number of single-family housing permits issued by the city has generally moved in a similar direction. (Rio Rancho Observer—Sterling Fluharty graphic)

As the number of residents in Rio Rancho has occasionally increased, and more often slowed down in the last decade, the number of single-family housing permits issued by the city has generally moved in a similar direction. (Rio Rancho Observer—Sterling Fluharty graphic)

Rio Rancho saw its population reach 91,956 in 2013, an increase of 1.3 percent since 2012, and is the eighth fastest-growing city or town in New Mexico since 2010, according to U.S. census data released Thursday.

“Rio Rancho’s continued increase in residents over the years indicates that people want to live where there is a strong educational system, low crime, and a high quality of life,” said Rio Rancho Mayor Greggory D. Hull in an emailed statement.

“I believe Rio Rancho will continue to be strong in these areas moving forward, and our economy and population will continue to grow,” he wrote.

From 2012 to 2013, the six fastest-growing communities were in the southeast corner of the state, where an oil boom has fueled population growth, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

The one-year period saw modest growth for large communities elsewhere in New Mexico: Sunland Park, 2.3 percent; Santa Fe, 0.9 percent; Las Cruces, 0.3 percent; and Albuquerque, 0.3 percent. Farmington and Alamogordo lost population.

Rio Rancho added less than 1,200 residents between 2012 and 2013. The city’s annual growth has usually been higher: 9,530 from 2005 to 2006, 5,459 from 2009 to 2010, 4,692 from 2006 to 2007 and 3,521 from 2007 to 2008.

City spokesman Peter Wells, in an email Thursday, noted a slight increase for the city. The population grew 1.28 percent from 2011 to 2012, an increase of 1,145 people, and then 1.30 percent from 2012 to 2013, an expansion of 1,181 residents.

The rate of growth in Rio Rancho is down from recent years, but the city has outpaced most other municipalities in New Mexico since the turn of the century.

In March 2011, the Observer reported census data from 2000 and 2010 showing Rio Rancho was the fastest-growing city in the state.

From 2000 to 2013, the population in Rio Rancho increased from 51,765 to 91,956, an expansion of 78 percent. Only the tiny town of Causey in southeastern New Mexico and Edgewood, which doubled their population, had a higher growth rate over those same years.

For the years 2010 to 2013, seven places grew faster than Rio Rancho, which had a 4 percent increase. Hobbs and Carlsbad went up 6 percent. Sunland Park, Jal, Tatum, Lovington and Eunice expanded by 5 percent.

Rio Rancho remains the third-largest city in the state. Albuquerque and Las Cruces had larger populations in 2013, with 556,495 and 101,324, respectively.

Santa Fe annexed 4,100 acres in January. City officials there claim a population of 82,000, according to a report in the Santa Fe New Mexican. That would represent an increase from the 69,976 residents counted by the U.S. Census in 2013.

Other data help illustrate how the growth in Rio Rancho has slowed over the last few years.

In 2005, when the population increased by almost 10,000, the city issued 3,084 single-family housing permits, according to a spreadsheet on its website.

In 2011, when the number of residents went up 1,591, the city handed out 301 permits.

According to 40th day enrollment data from the New Mexico Public Education Department website, the number of students enrolled in Rio Rancho Public Schools has increased slowly: 16,523 in 2010-11, 16,858 in 2011-12, 16,884 in 2012-13 and 17,197 in 2013-14.

Between 2008 and 2012, the number of births in Sandoval County dropped from 1,628 to 1,459, a decrease of 10 percent, according to New Mexico’s Indicator-Based Information System, an online database.

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