Serving the High Plains

Data Book maps out Quay County trends

Quay County ranks poorly in New Mexico with child poverty and child food insecurity but grades well with low poverty rates for senior citizens and access to high-speed broadband internet.

Those are some of the takeaways from the New Mexico Human Services Department’s Data Book, published last month.

The 476-page publication summarizes social, economic and health statistics from a variety of sources, with even more granular data sorted by county.

Quay County often ranked in the middle of many trends and criteria compared to the state average, but here are some that stood out in the Data Book:

• Many children in the county are poor. Quay County has the second-worst poverty rate of minors in New Mexico, with 42.6%. That is considerably worse than the state average of 24.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Only McKinley County is worse, with 43.9%.

Lincoln County has the smallest proportion of children in poverty, with 13.8%.

Child poverty also is reflected in the county’s higher-than-average use of food stamps, heating assistance and other services for poor families.

• Many children in the county are hungry. Quay County has the fourth-worst child food insecurity rate in New Mexico, with 30.1%, according to a 2021 map of Map the Meal Gap. Only Sierra, McKinley and Luna counties are worse.

The state average is 22%.

Los Alamos County had the lowest child food insecurity rate, at 9.8%.

• Most county teens have access to contraceptives. Quay County’s percentage of teens given access to the most or moderately effective contraceptives was 96% as of February 2021, according to the state’s Family Planning Annual Report.

Only Union and Mora counties had rates equal to or higher than Quay’s.

De Baca County had the lowest rate in New Mexico, with 74%. Three counties, including Harding, lacked sufficient data.

• The county has many single-parent households. Quay County ranks fourth in New Mexico with its proportion of single-parent households with children. The county’s rate is 57.7%, according to the Census Bureau. Only San Miguel, Sierra and Guadalupe counties saw higher rates.

The state average is 40.7%.

The county with the lowest rate was Los Alamos, with 17.2%.

• The poverty rate of older people in the county is low. Quay County has the second-lowest poverty rate for adults age 65 and older, with a rate of 7.1%.

Only Los Alamos County had a lower rate, with 5.5%. The state average is 13.5%.

McKinley County rated the worst in the state, with an average of 24.1%.

• The county skews older. Quay County’s percentage of residents age 65 and older is 26.5%, which ranks 10th in the state.

Catron County has the highest percentage at 43.3%, and Lea County was the lowest at 11.3%.

• The county will keep skewing older. Quay County by 2030 will have 27.83% of its residents that are age 65 and older by 2030, according to the Iowa Data Center. That ranks 11th in the state.

The county with the highest projection of senior citizens will be neighboring Harding County, with 42.1%.

Curry County is projected to have the smallest such proportion, with 15.34%.|

n The county has a higher number of Alzheimer’s deaths. Quay County ranks sixth in New Mexico with the number of age-adjusted deaths by Alzheimer’s disease. The rate was 27.2 per 100,000 people, according to the state Department of Health.

Only San Juan, Eddy, Curry, Roosevelt and Lea counties were worse.

n The county grades high with ultrahigh-speed internet. Quay County ranks sixth in New Mexico with the percentage coverage of internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second, with 62%, according to BroadbandNow. Sandoval, Guadalupe, Roosevelt, Curry and Chaves county all rank higher.

The state average is 13.8%.

Much of eastern New Mexico grades well in this area. Much of northern, western and southwestern New Mexico has non-existent or single-digit percentages of access to 1-gig speeds.