A Profile of Youth and Young Adults in Albuquerque

Posted March 21, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Young woman of native american heritage stands outside.

The age span from 14 to 24 marks a crit­i­cal stage of devel­op­ment. Dur­ing this phase, young peo­ple expe­ri­ence pro­found phys­i­o­log­i­cal changes and must nav­i­gate increas­ing auton­o­my while form­ing their iden­ti­ty, expand­ing their socioe­mo­tion­al and life skills, advanc­ing their edu­ca­tion, acquir­ing job train­ing and more. This peri­od of time is also a win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty for par­ents, care­givers and car­ing adults — as well as pro­grams, invest­ments and poli­cies — to sup­port young peo­ple and their future.

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® Data Cen­ter, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with local part­ners, pro­vides data on the well-being of youth and young adults in Albu­querque. This data is wide-rang­ing and explores demo­graph­ics, pover­ty, edu­ca­tion, employ­ment, health, teen births and more. The text below iden­ti­fies some of these data find­ings as well as select results of the Youth Risk Behav­ior Sur­vey admin­is­tered by the U.S. Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention.

Key Find­ings on Albu­querque’s Youth

Issues such as pover­ty, men­tal health, tobac­co use, access to health insur­ance, stu­dent tru­an­cy and the tran­si­tion to adult­hood remain seri­ous chal­lenges for young peo­ple in Albu­querque. At the same time, the city has report­ed mean­ing­ful improve­ments in oth­er areas, includ­ing reduc­ing school dropout rates, boost­ing high school grad­u­a­tion rates and reduc­ing teen births. Below is a break­out of some key find­ings by topic.


  • Albu­querque is the most pop­u­lous city in the state of New Mex­i­co. In 2020, more than 42,600 young peo­ple between the ages of 15 to 19 called the city home. The Albu­querque Pub­lic Schools — the largest of New Mex­i­co’s 89 school dis­tricts — edu­cates about 1 in every 4 pub­lic school stu­dents statewide.


  • More than 1 in 5 school-age kids in Albu­querque lived in pover­ty in 2021. City­wide, the pover­ty rate for kids ages 6 to 17 rose from 20% in 2019 to 22% in 2021. The most recent pover­ty rate report­ed — 22% — is on par with the rest of the state but exceeds the nation­al rate of 16%.
  • About 1 in 4 young adults in Albu­querque lived in pover­ty in 2021. The city’s young peo­ple, ages 18 to 24, have expe­ri­enced high pover­ty rates in the past decade, start­ing with near­ly one-third liv­ing in pover­ty in 2011, fol­lowed by a steady decline to one-fifth in pover­ty by 2018. Since then, rates jumped to 26% in 2019 and then declined to 24% in 2021 — equiv­a­lent to 12,000 young adults liv­ing below the fed­er­al pover­ty level.


  • Stu­dent tru­an­cy rates spiked in 202021 for Albu­querque Pub­lic Schools and New Mex­i­co as a whole. A stu­dent is con­sid­ered habit­u­al­ly tru­ant” if they have 10 or more unau­tho­rized absences from school in a giv­en school year. Across all Albu­querque Pub­lic Schools, the habit­u­al tru­an­cy rate hov­ered around 18% from 201516 to 201819. Dur­ing the 201920 school year, this rate dropped to 7% (when the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic pushed much learn­ing online) before ris­ing again — to 22% in 202021. The statewide tru­an­cy rate fol­lowed a sim­i­lar pat­tern, peak­ing at 27% in 202021.
  • The dropout rate for Albu­querque Pub­lic Schools fell by more than half in sev­en years. After reach­ing a high of 7.2% in 201213, the school district’s dropout rate for grades 7 to 12 declined to a low of 2.8% in 201718. This rate then inched up to 3.4% in 201920 — still less than half of the rate at its peak in 201213.
  • More than 3 in 4 high school seniors across the Albu­querque Pub­lic School Dis­trict grad­u­at­ed in 2021. The district’s high school grad­u­a­tion rate increased by an impres­sive 14 per­cent­age points in just six years – mov­ing from 62% in 2015 to 76% in 2021.

The Tran­si­tion to Adulthood

  • Only 3% of Albu­querque teens, ages 16 to 19, were out of school and with­out a high school diplo­ma in 2021. This rate improved sev­en per­cent­age points since 2018 and bests both the state aver­age of 7% and the nation­al aver­age of 4% in 2021.
  • Near­ly 1 in 10 of the city’s teenagers were not in school or employed in 2021. The share of Albu­querque youth, ages 16 to 19, who were not in school (full- or part-time) or employed (full- or part-time) has fluc­tu­at­ed over the last decade. This rate sat at 10% from 2010 to 2012, then fell below 10% from 2013 to 2017, then returned to 10% in 2018. The rate has since dropped one per­cent­age point—to 9% — in 2021. Despite fluc­tu­at­ing, the city’s rate typ­i­cal­ly best­ed the state aver­age in near­ly every year of the pre­vi­ous decade.
  • In 2021, about 1 in 6 young adults across Albu­querque were not in school, not employed and had only a high school diplo­ma. This sta­tis­tic helps to gauge if young peo­ple, ages 18 to 24, are strug­gling to tran­si­tion to adult­hood. It has bounced around in recent years, hit­ting 18% in 2009, falling to 10% in 2019, and ris­ing to 16% in 2021.
  • The share of young peo­ple in Albu­querque who had com­plet­ed or were enrolled in col­lege dropped by 20% in the last decade. The per­cent­age of young res­i­dents, ages 18 to 24, who fit this sta­tis­tic fell from 51% in 2011 to 41% in 2021. While the city’s 41% rate is marked­ly bet­ter than the state’s rate of 34% for 2021, it still sits below the nation­al aver­age of 49%.


  • 1 in 10 high school­ers in Albu­querque expe­ri­enced phys­i­cal dat­ing vio­lence in 2019. City­wide, 10% of high school stu­dents report­ed being phys­i­cal­ly hurt by some­one they were dat­ing, accord­ing to the CDC’s 2019 Youth Risk Behav­ior Sur­vey. Among LGB stu­dents (the sur­vey did not cov­er trans­gen­der iden­ti­ty), the rate of dat­ing vio­lence more than doubled.
  • Across Albu­querque, 36 young peo­ple, ages 15 to 19, died in 2020. While the city’s annu­al count fluc­tu­ates, it has hov­ered between 20 and 40 deaths per year since 2004 (the first year this sta­tis­tic appeared in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter). In addi­tion: This sta­tis­tic has steadi­ly declined since 2018.


  • More than 1 in 4 high school­ers in Albu­querque were over­weight or obese in 2019. City­wide, 14% of high school stu­dents were over­weight and 14% had obe­si­ty, accord­ing to the CDC’s sur­vey. Among the racial and eth­nic groups with avail­able data, Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native stu­dents had the high­est obe­si­ty rate at 28%.
  • Near­ly 2 in 5 high school­ers in Albu­querque were using tobac­co prod­ucts in 2019. City­wide, 37% of stu­dents were using cig­a­rettes, cig­ars, smoke­less tobac­co or elec­tron­ic vapor prod­ucts, 26% were drink­ing alco­hol and 29% were using mar­i­jua­na. Com­pared to their peers nation­al­ly, Albu­querque stu­dents were more like­ly to try cig­a­rettes, alco­hol or mar­i­jua­na before age 13. They were also more like­ly to have used ille­gal drugs, such as cocaine, hero­in, metham­phet­a­mines and ecstasy.
  • The share of Albu­querque youth ages 6 to 18 with­out health insur­ance dou­bled in 2021. The rate of unin­sured youth rose from 4% in 2019 to 8% in 2021. The city’s 2021 unin­sured rate — rep­re­sent­ing 7,000 young peo­ple — was high­er than the statewide rate (7%) or the nation­al rate (6%). This marks the first time in four years that the city rate has risen above both the state and nation­al rate.

Men­tal Health

  • Among Albu­querque high school­ers, 2 in 5 report­ed hav­ing per­sis­tent feel­ings of sad­ness or hope­less­ness in 2019. City­wide, 40% of high school­ers report­ed feel­ing so sad or hope­less almost every day for two or more weeks that they stopped doing usu­al activ­i­ties, per the CDC’s 2019 Youth Risk Behav­ior Sur­vey. Stu­dents in Albu­querque were more like­ly to report this rel­a­tive to their peers nation­wide. Cer­tain Albu­querque stu­dents were also more like­ly to report per­sis­tent sad­ness or hope­less­ness than oth­ers, includ­ing LGB youth (63%), females (50%), Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native youth (45%) and old­er high school­ers (43%-44%).
  • About 1 in 5 of the city’s high school stu­dents said they had seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered attempt­ing sui­cide in 2019. Across Albu­querque, 21% of all high school­ers and 44% of LGB high school­ers said that they had seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered attempt­ing sui­cide over the last year, accord­ing to the CDC sur­vey. In addi­tion, Albu­querque stu­dents were more like­ly than stu­dents nation­wide (3.6% vs. 2.5%) to have an actu­al sui­cide attempt result­ing in an injury, poi­son­ing or over­dose that required med­ical treatment.

Teen Births

  • Teen births have plum­met­ed across Albu­querque over the past decade. The num­ber of births by teenagers, ages 15 to 19, has dropped by more than half — from 774 in 2011 to 303 in 2020. See births for younger teens com­pared to old­er teens.
  • The city’s share of teen births by women who were already moth­ers hit a 30-year low. In 2020, 10% of teen births in Albu­querque were by women, under the age of 20, who were already moth­ers. This rate sits below the nation­al aver­age of 15% in 2020 and fell from 24% for both Albu­querque and the nation in 1990.

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