The annual Kids Count Data Book was released by New Mexico Voices for Children last week. The report found improvement in the area of children's health, but state poverty levels continue to negatively impact the children in our community. According to the data book, low birth weights, children without health insurance, teen pregnancy and teen abuse of alcohol and drugs have all declined. The executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, James Jimenez, says this can be directly attributed to the Affordable Care Act and the access to medical care it provides. But while the health of our children has shown a significant increase, New Mexico's economic troubles have pushed 10,000 more children into high poverty areas between 2013 and 2014—where the poverty rate is more than 30 percent, compared to the national average of 14. Overall, 29 percent of the state's children live in poverty areas. Since 2008, the state has also seen a 22 percent increase in children whose parents don't have year-round, full-time employment. The child and teen death rate in New Mexico is also abnormally high—31 deaths per 100,000, compared to the national average of 24 per 100,000.
N.M. Graduation Rate Rose in 2016
Last week, Gov. Susana Martinez announced that the graduation rate in New Mexico rose from 69 percent in 2015 to 71 percent in 2016. This is the highest the rate has been since the state began tracking four-year rates in 2008. Graduation rates increased in 48 of the state’s 89 school districts over the year. Albuquerque Public Schools had a graduation rate of 66 percent, a 4 percent increase since 2015. Of the 13 major high schools operating in APS, only one—Sandia—had a decrease in their rate, dropping 2.3 percentage points. Santa Fe Public Schools saw 71 percent of their high school students graduate and Rio Rancho Public Schools had an 84 percent rate. The national average also reached an all-time high this year with 83 percent, 12 percent higher than New Mexico's.
Oil Company Nearly Doubles Its Holdings in Southeast N.M.
ExxonMobil announced a $5.6 billion deal to acquire 275,000 acres of leases in the Permian Basin last week. The oil company is buying access to nearly 3.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent reserves in the New Mexico side of the Delaware Basin, nearly doubling their total holdings in the Permian to about 6 billion barrels of oil equivalent hydrocarbons. According to the Houston-based oil and gas research firm PLS, this is the largest oil and gas acquisition made since 2014. State officials expect to see drilling begin by the end of the year. ExxonMobil is the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company and made $16.2 billion in revenue in 2015.