New Mexico is a state located in the Southwestern and Western regions of the United States (Burgan 2008). It is the 6th sparsely populated state in United States. The state was admitted into the union of United States in the year 1912 and it is the 5th largest state (Burgan 2008). Due to its topography, it is always referred to as one of the mountain States. Currently, New Mexico ranks amongst the top five poorest states in America with 21% of the population living in poverty (Fitzpatrick 2014). It has the highest percentage of child poverty standing at 29% and the percentage of women in poverty is 23.1% (Fitzpatrick 2014). New Mexico has the highest number of youths who are not educated and do not work. The causes of poverty in New Mexico are widely extensive and complex.
Causes of poverty in New Mexico
According to the latest study, the percentage of youth between ages of 18 and 24 who were in neither school nor working was 22% (Rycroft 2013). This was the highest percentage amongst all the states in America. In an economic view, education to the youth translates to economic development and growth. The high numbers of disconnected youth in New Mexico strain the economic levels of the State due to their dependency on the government and also friends and relatives. The local government spends a lot of money in relief aid for the residents of the State instead of using the money to develop the State economically. This situation makes other important sectors of the economy like development of infrastructure to be neglected. New Mexico languishes in poverty due to majority of its expenditure is on non-income earning activities. The disconnected youths engage in criminal vices due to idleness; such activities scare away investors who would have created employment and boosted the economy of the state.
Poor savings culture and asset poor population
Majority of the citizens living in New Mexico have a poor savings culture and live for the moment (Esparza 2008, p.34). The money they get is all consumed on current consumptions like food, clothing, and entertainment. A small percentage of the population has a savings culture where they spend less than half their income and the other half they save. Lack of a savings culture in New Mexico is a main cause of poverty because the citizens in the State cannot engage in any economic activity like investments that would boost the economy of the state (Esparza 2008). This leaves the burden of developing the state to the local government and with the high dependency it has by the citizens makes development of the economy a difficult task.
The percentage of households in New Mexico who were asset poor was 23.4% in 2011 (Dominguez 2012). This percentage shows the share of households whose total assets including any home equity is less than three times the monthly federal poverty threshold. This signifies that a small number of the residents in the state qualify for loans from banks. This automatically translates to a small portion of the population who are able to invest in the state. This factor reduces the economic power of the state subjecting it to poverty.
The unemployment rate in New Mexico stands at 6.9% (Fitzpatrick 2014, p.21). This is the percentage of all the people legible to work and is not employed in New Mexico. Recently in the State there have been a high number of people losing their jobs. Bothe the formal and informal sector was affected by the great recession that hit United States. Since then, recovery has been slow in the State. High unemployment rates leads to high dependency ratio. The number of households receiving federal rental assistance is very high due to the unemployment menace. Majority of the population also receive child care subsidies. In the end most of the money of both the federal and local government is channeled into assisting the citizens have a comfortable life instead of being channeled into economic projects (Esparza 2008).
High unemployment rates lead to low standards of livings of the citizens. Citizens with a low standard of living do not attract any commercial activities. All potential investors who would bring money to the local government in form of taxes are scared away (Esparza 2008). The local government will be generating less revenue in form of taxes that cannot be able to develop the economy of New Mexico sufficiently. This condemns the state and the residents in it to poverty.
Population Growth in relation to economic growth
The population growth in New Mexico is way ahead of the economic growth (Fitzpatrick 2014). Households continue getting children as years go by while the economic growth of the state since the recession has not been growing steadily. The continuing population growth creates a strain on the available economic resources in the State. This will cause a section of the population to miss out on the resources available like job opportunities and health facilities. This will cause the living standards of the people in the state to diminish greatly and when measuring the poverty levels, New Mexico will always be at the top of the list.
High populations lacking the economic resources like jobs and other benefits will translate to high levels of insecurity (Reef 2013, p.44). The population that is not lucky to get the resources will engage in robbery and stealing in order to get something. Great levels of insecurity in economic terms translate to a strained level of economic activities and low levels of economic growth. The ever growing population in relation to the shaky economic growth of the state is one of the main reasons why there are high levels of poverty in New Mexico.
Native American reservations
According to the latest United States census, the high rates of poverty in New Mexico are mainly due to the Native American reservations (Rycroft 2013, p.77). The population living in these areas isoften forgotten by the government of United States. There is a serious negative stigma associated to these areas which make the area unattractive for companies to expand their business, teachers and other professionals who would have considered working in the area (Rycroft 2013). This leaves the area with minimal economic activities that can sustain the State and residents living there. Without public and private investments in the area, the poverty rates continue to persist. Low investment leads to critical lack of jobs, high rates of underemployment, low-quality education, and low quality health care in the state. All these make the problem of poverty in New Mexico to persist.
Culture and perception of the people
Majority of the residents of New Mexico have resigned to the notion that they cannot do anything without the help of the government (Mohan 2007). This fatalist mentality that they possess resigns them to the culture of poverty where they will be waiting for incentives and help from the government. Without a working and dedicated population to better their livelihood; a country or even state cannot develop economically. This scenario is clear in New Mexico where there are minimal economic activities taking place due to the mentality of the residents there. The little money obtained from the state will therefore be used in non-economic activities that do not have returns. The working population compared to the entire population is a small fraction so when it comes to measuring income per capita in that state it shows the critical levels of poverty. Income per capita is one of the indicators of poverty.
The continued negative energy of the residents where they feel inferior, passive, hopeless, and powerless has a big impact on the economic growth of the State (Whitehead 2006). Youths with potential let it fly away because they have the mentality that they cannot succeed in any endeavor. This causes the number of job creators in the state to be low as compared to the number of job seekers. This imbalance leads to factors such as high rates of unemployment and underemployment which causes poverty in New Mexico.
High income inequality
There is high income inequality in New Mexico between the high earning group and the low earning group (McDaniel 2008, p.51). The highest earning who constitute a small portion of the working group earn extremely high wages and salaries while the other group of low earning who are the majority earn very minimal amount mostly the minimum wage. This causes the low earning to be subjected to poverty due to the number of people depending on them while they are earning very little wages and salaries.This high income poverty in New Mexico State leads to many other forms of poverty in the state making the state rank high among the poorest states in America.
Reducing poverty in New Mexico
The best pathway out of poverty is a well-paying job (Mohan 2007, p.43). If majority of the population in New Mexico will have well-paying jobs, then there will be high economic activities in the state which will eradicate the menace of poverty.To get back to the employment levels that were in New Mexico before recession, the federal government and local government should create over a million new jobs (Fitzpatrick 2014). Both governments should invest in job creation strategies such as rebuilding infrastructure in the state, developing renewable energy sources, and revitalizing neighborhoods (Fitzpatrick 2014). These strategies will offer employment platform for the citizens living in New Mexico lifting them out of great poverty levels.
Job creation will also reduce the high dependency numbers on the government. This will enable the local government to spend its resources and revenue in activities that will be beneficial economically to the state. This will lead to economic growth and economic development of the State raising it from the critical poverty levels. The job creation strategies by the federal and local government will safe guard any future risk of poverty since it will cover long-term unemployment problems. This will make it hard for the state to experience high poverty rates.
Raise the minimum wage
The current minimum wage can only sustain someone who is not married and dos not have any children. The current minimum wage would have been convenient back then in 1960s where it would d be enough for a family of even four (Esparza 2008). Due to inflation, this is now not the case as we see in New Mexico.Majority of the citizens are earning minimum wage and they cannot afford to fend for their families. The cost of life in New Mexico and the whole nation has risen massively making everything more expensive than it was some years ago. The minimum wage should be adjusted in accordance to the current changes so as to make household that have children able to sustain their needs.
An increase in the minimum wage will reduce the levels of poverty in New Mexico as the people will be able to afford the basic commodities and they will have good standard of living. The ability of parents in the state to provide support will make the government spend less in programs such as child support and instead channel that money in programs that will grow and develop the economy of New Mexico and eradicate reduce the poverty levels in the State (Esparza 2008).
Reducing unintended pregnancies for young women
It is quite often seen that children born to unmarried mothers in New Mexico and the whole of America face an elevated risk of abject poverty (Reef 2007, p.18). These unmarried mothers are young ladies between the ages of 18 and 24. They usually do not have jobs and when they get children they are always unable to sustain and provide for both the child and them. Awareness should be spread on the disadvantages of unintended pregnancies and the importance of family planning methods so as to curb this. Tackling this situation will enable the young ladies to pursue their education and fulfill their academic dreams thereafter getting jobs that will sustain them (Mondragon 2005).
Reducing unwanted pregnancies will also improve the standards of living of the people in New Mexico and this is one indicator of poverty. The households will have manageable numbers to sustain and this will make them less dependent on government for assistance. A region where there is high standard of living will attract investors who would help in the economic growth and development of the state reducing the levels of poverty.
Expand education access
The government should expand and increase education institutions in New Mexico as it will help in tackling the menace of poverty (Fitzpatrick 2014). Increasing access to education will see the disjointed youths who are not in school go back to school to pursue their studies. In economic terms it is known that education is the most important tool in fighting poverty. Increasing access to education for the youth will increase the number of qualified work force who will participate in building the economy of New Mexico. Having a high number of educated people in the state will grow and develop the economy of New Mexico reducing the poverty levels.
Increasing access to education to the disconnected youth will greatly reduce the insecurity problem in the state. This is because the number of idle youth will have been slashed greatly. A secure sate will attract investors into the region and they will be create job opportunities for the locals, be a source of revenue to the local government in form of taxes, and develop the infrastructure of the state. This will end up growing and developing the economy of New Mexico.
Expanding the current Medicaid where citizens have access to high-quality, affordable, and convenient access to health care services will reduce the great levels of poverty in New Mexico (Rycroft 2013). Expanding this programme will ensure that households free up their limited income for other basic needs such as paying rent , access to education, and buying food (Rycroft 2013). This will enable the low income families in New Mexico to manage their livelihood without much dependence on the government. This will increase the standards of living for the citizens reducing the great levels of poverty.
Supporting working families
Often at times in New Mexico and the whole country, only the unemployed receive maximum benefits of support programs. The employed earning minimum wage but have children that they cannot sustain are always left out. Coming up with programs where working families are offered refundable child care credit will help alleviate the state out of poverty (Fitzpatrick 2014). This program will enable the families to afford quality education for their children and provide other basic commodities for them. The program will enable the families to invest some small amount of money they earn which will bring returns for them and the state of New Mexico.
The support programme will reduce the number of school drop-outs and the high number of insecurities in the state. There will be high economic activities in the state due to this support to working families and as a result, the menace of poverty will greatly reduce.
Encourage work-sharing programs to reduce unemployment
This is where a company reduces the employees’ total work hours in exchange for termination and laying off of people (Rycroft 2013). The federal government and the local government of New Mexico should come up withthis policy as it will tackle the problem of unemployment which is a driver ofpoverty. Thousands of people lose their jobs yearly in New Mexico and this stems up and increases the problem of unemployment. If this number would have experiences a reduction in their total working hours then the problem of unemployment would have been solved (Rycroft 2013). Low levels of unemployment mean low dependency on the government and high sustainability among the citizens of New Mexico. This is a tool that will also protect the working force in New Mexico during a recession. This will reduce the problem of poverty in New Mexico.
Designing mentoring and empowerment programme for the disconnected youth
Creating a programme that will address the needs and concerns of the disconnected youth will help in tackling the menace of poverty (Rycroft 2013). The programme will empower the youth and make them realize their potentials instead of idling around and participating in crime. This will be an avenue where the youth will learn life skills that will make them productive. This programme will even offer loans to the youths who have economically feasible projects that can improve the economy of the state. The projects engaged by the youths due to this programme will offer job employment to the rest of the residents of New Mexico and this will help raise the state out of the great levels of poverty which makes it rank among the poorest states (Rycroft 2013
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