New Mexico's children will determine the future of the state, so ensuring that they have all the opportunities they need to succeed is crucial for our state's prosperity. Children living in poverty are less likely to have enriching opportunities that help them reach their full potential, which is one of the reasons poverty is so difficult to escape. In New Mexico, nearly one in three – or 145,000 – children are living in poverty. Our high rate of child poverty is the main reason the state is ranked worst in the country for overall child well-being. That does not bode well for the future of New Mexico.
High rates of child poverty are not surprising when we consider that one in five New Mexicans lives in poverty, and the median income in New Mexico is 17 percent lower than the national average. When looking at our hourly workforce, 31 percent are earning low wages, meaning their wage is at or near the state's minimum wage of $7.50 an hour. This represents 245,894 hard-working New Mexicans. Add to that 100,596 children who have at least one parent earning low wages.