Closing Racial Equity Gap Means Economic Gains for New Mexico

Closing Racial Equity Gap Means Economic Gains for New Mexico

New Mexico could realize significant economic growth if it takes steps to close its racial equity gap, a new report from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Altarum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming health and health care, finds.

According to The Business Case for Racial Equity New Mexico: A Strategy for Growth, New Mexico could realize a $93 billion gain in economic output by 2050 if it closed its racial equity gap. The report provides a state-level blueprint for achieving racial equity and sustainable economic growth, with a focus on preparing workers for the quality jobs of tomorrow on military bases and in tech labs, as well as in oil and gas production, agriculture, and tourism. Among other things, the report found that 63 percent of the jobs in the state will require postsecondary education by 2020, while only 47 percent of Native Americans and 52 percent of Latinos in the state have achieved some postsecondary education, compared to 75 percent of whites; and that 27 percent of the jobs in the state will require at least a bachelor's degree, but that only 14 percent of Hispanics in the state and 10 percent of Native Americans have a college degree. Currently, 62 percent of the state's working-age population (ages 18 to 64) are people of color — a share that's expected to grow to more than 75 percent by 2050.  

The report also found that the average Latino adult earns slightly more than half what his/her white age/gender counterpart (59 percent) earns, while the average Native American earns less than half (46 percent). That equates to roughly $39,000 in average annual earnings for whites, $23,000 for Latinos, and $18,000 for Native Americans. The report further notes that closing the earnings gap would create $10 billion in additional consumer spending, including $1.3 billion in food purchases per year, $3.3 billion in housing, $347 million in apparel and services, $1.7 billion in automobiles and transportation, and $513 million in entertainment spending today.

"There is tremendous economic potential for the people of New Mexico and their communities," said WKKF president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. "With one of the most diverse and multilingual populations in the country, this report demonstrates how opportunistic it is for business leaders and policymakers to invest in the talents of the future workforce and remove barriers so that all families and their children have opportunities to thrive."