While an aging population has its advantages — seniors don’t send too many children to government schools, and crime is overwhelmingly committed by the young — it’s not all good.
That’s why a Governing analysis issued last month should be of tremendous concern to New Mexicans. Between 2010 and 2016, only one state (Mississippi) lost a greater share of Generation X residents. For Millennials, the results were exactly the same — Illinois alone lost a larger portion of America’s largest group by age. Each of the Land of Enchantment’s five neighbors grew their populations of Xers and Millennials.
The future is anyone’s guess. “Generation Alpha” is still being born, but New Mexico’s fertility rate has been trending downward, suggesting that if the cohort is to grow here, it will need to be imported.
Positive in-migration would be a major reversal for the Land of Enchantment. Millennials have been outbound for years, and the trend doesn’t appear to be changing. A recent New Mexico in Depth survey of UNM students “distributed to 29 upperclassmen of 27 different majors, in both the arts and science fields,” found that “nearly two-thirds, or 27, said they plan to leave the Land of Enchantment for better job markets.”
The state’s generational trend is one more reason why a slate of proven economic-development policies, implemented immediately, is essential.