Four New Mexico Cities Named “Boomtowns” in National Survey

By T.S. Last, Albuquerque Journal

Visitors take pictures at the Santa Fe Plaza
Albuquerque Journal

July 26, 2019 – Santa Fe is the biggest “boomtown” in the state of New Mexico, according to a self-described “money lifestyle website.” But cities like Rio Rancho, Carlsbad and Hobbs may be more deserving.

GOBankingRates released its list of the fastest-growing cities in each state on Wednesday, using five- and 10-year U.S. Census data to measure population growth, as well as increases in occupied housing units and per capita income. But the study doesn’t factor in Santa Fe’s annexation of 4,100 acres of land in 2014, which resulted in a population increase of 13,250 and more than 4,400 new housing units.

The study says Santa Fe’s population increased 21.5% in five years from 2012 to 2017, exceeding the national average by 17.7 percentage points. Annexation increased the city’s population by 16%, from about 59,000 to close to 82,000, in just one year.

The study measured the city’s 10-year population increase at 27.3%. It says the change in owner-occupied housing units increased by 19% over five years and 31.3% over 10 years.

Contrary to what the study may suggest, arguably the biggest issue Santa Fe is facing today is a housing shortage. Mayor Alan Webber has made increasing the inventory and diversifying housing options a high priority. Some estimates peg the shortage at as many as 5,000 units.

The GOBankingRates study also used five- and 10-year changes in per capita income as part of its analysis.

The public relations manager for GOBankingRates defended the validity of the study when contacted by the Journal.

“The data we used supports our findings,” Rob Poindexter wrote in an email. “We typically try not to delve so much into the ‘why,’ we just use the available data to reach our conclusions.”

In response to a request for comment on the study, Mayor Webber acknowledged that annexation should be factored into the data. “But the larger story continues to be that Santa Fe is a great place to live, work, learn, start and grow a business, and raise a family,” he said in a statement. “Our aim is to preserve and protect what makes Santa Fe special and continue this pattern of smart and sustainable growth.”

On the New Mexico page that lists the statistics for Santa Fe, GOBankingRates says, “If you live in Rio Rancho, Carlsbad or Hobbs, you’re also living in a boomtown.”