A Profile of Youth and Young Adults in Albuquerque
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 2020–21 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 2015–16 to 2018–19. During the 2019–20 school year, this rate dropped to 7% (when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed much learning online) before rising again — to 22% in 2020–21. The statewide truancy rate followed a similar pattern, peaking at 27% in 2020–21.
- The dropout rate for Albuquerque Public Schools fell by more than half in seven years. After reaching a high of 7.2% in 2012–13, the school district’s dropout rate for grades 7 to 12 declined to a low of 2.8% in 2017–18. This rate then inched up to 3.4% in 2019–20 — still less than half of the rate at its peak in 2012–13.
- 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.
- 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 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.
More Data and Resources on Youth and Young Adults
- Go to the KIDS COUNT Data Center for more data on how youth and young adults are faring in Albuquerque, New Mexico and nationally. Learn more about the challenges youth face, as well as opportunities to support them, in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Thrive by 25® announcement.
- Blog Post: Collaborating for Youth Justice in Albuquerque
- Report: How Young Adults View Social Connectedness and Access Resources
- Blog Post: The Benefits of Workforce Exposure and Career Programming for Youth and Young Adults