December 9th 2016 - Written by: Suzan Reagan

How Rural is New Mexico?

Nationally urban populations have increased while rural populations have declined. The US Census Bureau estimated that the 1910 rural populations were at 54.4 percent of the total US population while in 2010 they had declined to 19.3 percent. In New Mexico the 1910 Decennial Census rural population was estimated at 85.8 percent and for 2010 the rural population had declined to 22.6 percent. New Mexico has followed the national trend but continues to have a higher percent of rural areas compared to the national. Of New Mexico’s 33 counties the Census Bureau has identified six as completely rural and an additional six as mostly rural. The most rural counties Catron, De Baca, Harding, Hidalgo, Mora, and Union had no urban population for the 2010 Census coming in at 100 percent rural. Torrance County had 98.8 percent rural population (see table below).

The remaining 21 counties are considered urban. Even counties such as San Juan which is considered urban and is a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in New Mexico had an estimated 43,778 people or 33.7 percent of the counties population living in rural areas in 2010. Doña Ana County and Santa Fe County also designated as MSAs have significant numbers of people, 40,362 Dona Ana and  36,274 Santa Fe, living in rural areas. Bernalillo County was the only county in New Mexico to have a rural population percent in the single digits at 4.2 percent. Still Bernalillo County had 27,798 people who live in rural areas of the county. Two small counties Los Alamos 11.2 percent rural and Curry 14.1 percent rural benefit from the location of Los Alamos National Labs and Cannon Air Force Base respectively. Most counties in New Mexico have populations living in urban areas but also considerable populations living in rural areas.

The Census Bureau has published a brief with information on the history and differences between definitions of rurality among other agencies, see Defining Rural at the U.S. Census Bureau. Along with the brief they have an interactive website Rural America . The table below is the New Mexico’s portion of the Census Bureau’s County Look-Up Table: http://www2.census.gov/geo/docs/reference/ua/County_Rural_Lookup.xlsx .

  • BLUE= mostly urban
  • GREEN= mostly rural
  • ORANGE=completely rural
  • BOLD TEXT = ACS 1- and 5-year estimates available All others = ACS 5-year estimates only
County 2010 Census Total Population 2010 Census Urban Population 2010 Census Rural Population 2010 Census Percent Rural
Bernalillo County, New Mexico 662,564 634,766 27,798 4.2
Catron County, New Mexico 3,725 0 3,725 100.0
Chaves County, New Mexico 65,645 49,727 15,918 24.2
Cibola County, New Mexico 27,213 12,152 15,061 55.3
Colfax County, New Mexico 13,750 6,551 7,199 52.4
Curry County, New Mexico 48,376 41,570 6,806 14.1
De Baca County, New Mexico 2,022 0 2,022 100.0
Doña Ana County, New Mexico 209,233 168,871 40,362 19.3
Eddy County, New Mexico 53,829 42,603 11,226 20.9
Grant County, New Mexico 29,514 17,014 12,500 42.4
Guadalupe County, New Mexico 4,687 2,621 2,066 44.1
Harding County, New Mexico 695 0 695 100.0
Hidalgo County, New Mexico 4,894 0 4,894 100.0
Lea County, New Mexico 64,727 51,114 13,613 21.0
Lincoln County, New Mexico 20,497 9,596 10,901 53.2
Los Alamos County, New Mexico 17,950 15,932 2,018 11.2
Luna County, New Mexico 25,095 14,903 10,192 40.6
McKinley County, New Mexico 71,492 30,471 41,021 57.4
Mora County, New Mexico 4,881 0 4,881 100.0
Otero County, New Mexico 1/ 63,799 44,917 18,880 29.6
Quay County, New Mexico 9,041 5,283 3,758 41.6
Rio Arriba County, New Mexico 40,246 20,218 20,028 49.8
Roosevelt County, New Mexico 19,846 12,610 7,236 36.5
Sandoval County, New Mexico 131,561 109,119 22,442 17.1
San Juan County, New Mexico 130,044 86,266 43,778 33.7
San Miguel County, New Mexico 29,393 15,609 13,784 46.9
Santa Fe County, New Mexico 144,170 107,896 36,274 25.2
Sierra County, New Mexico 11,988 7,918 4,070 34.0
Socorro County, New Mexico 17,866 8,991 8,875 49.7
Taos County, New Mexico 32,937 13,686 19,251 58.4
Torrance County, New Mexico 16,383 199 16,184 98.8
Union County, New Mexico 4,549 0 4,549 100.0
Valencia County, New Mexico 76,569 63,758 12,811 16.7

1/ Revised count. Urban and rural components will not add to total. For more information about 2010 Census Count Question Resolution, see www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/notes/errata.pdf

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census, Summary File 1, Table P2.

 


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