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New Census Data on Puerto Rico

The U.S. Census Bureau has released new figures for Puerto Rico. These numbers compare Puerto Rico at the time of the most recent census with the most recent figures, those from July 2015.

Puerto Rico’s population continues to dwindle. The population was 3,725,789 in the 2010 census, but the population estimate for July 1, 2015, is 3,474,182.

This is a drop of -6.8% in five years.

Puerto Rico’s population is aging. While the 2010 census showed that 14.5% of the Island’s people were over 65, the most recent figures show the elderly at 18%. The percentage of kids under age 5 fell from 6% to 5%, and the percentage of residents under 18 fell from 24% to 21%.

Not all of the figures show changes since 2010. Ethnic data was collected in 2010 but not in 2015, so it is not clear whether there has been any change. There were also a number of data points identified as 2011-2015. The Census Bureau identified 95,342 veterans on the Island during that time frame,for example, and reports that 94.7% of residents spoke a language other than English at home. 15.4% of those under 65 were identified as disabled in this time period.

Puerto Rico’s poverty rate is more than double that of any state. The new figures place the median rent at $465 and the cost of home ownership with a mortgage at $895. With a reported a median annual income of $19,350, both renting and owning a home would be above the commonly cited desirable housing cost proportion of 28%. 46.1% of the people of Puerto Rico were living in poverty as of 2015. This compares with a U.S. national poverty rate of 13.5%. Mississippi, the state with the highest poverty rate, was at 21.9%.

Only 45% of people over 25 are in the workforce.

The new figures make it clear that the people of Puerto Rico continue to be in a difficult position, financially. With fewer young people to support the aging population, low labor force participation, and a high poverty level, Puerto Rico needs big changes to recover from the current economic position.

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