Recent estimates say that there are about 5.8 million Puerto Ricans living in the States, compared with 3.2 million on the Island.
Puerto Ricans are not evenly distributed across the nation, however. Here, in order of Puerto Rican population, are the States with the 10 largest concentrations of Puerto Ricans.
Florida overtook New York as the State with the largest Puerto Rican population after Hurricane Maria devastated the Island in 2017. With 1,190,891 Puerto Rico residents, Florida has seen some real changes in its population. For example, Puerto Ricans now make up 21% of the Hispanic population of Florida, preparing to outnumber the Cuban population, which has historically been the largest group within Florida’s Hispanic population.
Florida’s Cuban voters are more reliably Republican than the Puerto Rican voters of Florida, and also turn out to vote in larger numbers. However, there are now more eligible voters from Puerto Rico in Florida than from Cuba. It is possible that this population change could affect the outcome of this year’s election in this important swing state.
New York was the State with the largest Puerto Rican population for decades. New York still has 1,096,823 Puerto Ricans and is one of just two States with more than one million Puerto Rican residents.
New York, and New York City in particular, used to be the epicenter of migration from Puerto Rico to the States. In 1940, 88% of the Puerto Ricans in the States lived in New York. Since New York’s Puerto Rican community has been established for nearly a century, the experience may be different from the communities that have grown up more recently.
Pennsylvania is third, with 493,255 Puerto Ricans. While Puerto Ricans comprise 5.5% of Florida’s population of 5.6% of New York’s, Pennsylvania is just 3.9% Puerto Rican.
However, Puerto Ricans make up about half of the Hispanic population of Pennsylvania. While the Hispanic population of Pennsylvania is relatively small, Latinos have been about half of the new residents in the past couple of years. Puerto Ricans began coming to Pennsylvania in increased numbers after Hurricane Maria.
The Garden State has 455,615 Puerto Rican residents. Like Pennsylvania, it has nearly half a million Puerto Ricans. However, the smaller total population of the State means that Puerto Ricans make up more than 5% of the total population of the State, just as in Florida and New York.
The Center for Puerto Rican Studies reports that New Jersey’s Puerto Rican community is more affluent than the average in the States or on the Island.
340,893 Puerto Ricans live in Massachusetts. This puts the Puerto Rican population of the State at 4.9%, much higher than most of the States in the Union.
Puerto Ricans began moving into Massachusetts in the 1950s, often using special programs for farm workers. The Puerto Rican population in Massachusetts is concentrated in the Springfield-Holyoke area, where nearly half the population is Puerto Rican. Holyoke in particular has the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans of any city in the 50 States.
With 302,027 Puerto Rican denizens, Connecticut is the last of the Northeastern States with large Puerto Rican populations. Connecticut actually has the largest percentage of Puerto Rican residents of any State: 8.5%.
More than half of the State’s Latino population is made up of Puerto Ricans. Hartford has more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans, making it one of the most concentrated Puerto Rico communities in the States. Like Massachusetts, Connecticut gained much of its Puerto Rican community in the 20th century, when Puerto Ricans moved to work in the tobacco fields.
Texas reflects the growing population of Puerto Ricans in the south. 239,157 Puerto Ricans call Texas home. That’s less than 1% of the population and just over 2% of the Hispanic population.
The Puerto Rican population in Texas doubled in the 21st century, and the trickle of Puerto Ricans to Texas sped up after Hurricane Maria. Job prospects are good in Texas and Spanish is widely spoken. Employers in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, where the concentration of Puerto Ricans is the greatest, regularly recruit workers from Puerto Rico.
The West Coast doesn’t have many Puerto Ricans outside of California, but this Spanish-speaking State has 226,314 Puerto Ricans. As in Texas, the high population density of California means that fewer than 1% (.6%, to be precise) of Californians are Puerto Rican.
Some Puerto Ricans came to California in the early 1900s when Californian and Hawaian companies were recruting agricultural workers from Puerto Rico, which had suffered a severe hurricane in 1899. Others moved west from East Coast communities which settled in during the mid-20th century. And still more came to California after Hurricane Maria.
Illinois is one of just a few Midwestern States with large Puerto Rican populations. With 207,109 Puerto Rican residents, Illinois has 1.6% Puerto Rican residents. However, Puerto Ricans make up 9.3% of the State’s population — a far larger percentage than in Texas or California.
Companies in Chicago recruited workers from East Coast Puerto Rican communities in the 1930s and 1940s. Chicago’s Puerto Rican community continues to be the cultural center of the Puerto Rican community in Illinois. Cook County, where Chicago is located, had the fourth largest Puerto Rican population among counties in the States in 2010.
Ohio is in tenth place for Puerto Rican population. Another Midwestern State, Ohio has 130,700 Puerto Rican residents. Puerto Ricans make up 28% of Ohio’s Hispanic population, a higher percentage than New Jersey and only a few points away from that of New York.
As in several other States, Ohio first began to see Puerto Rican residents when the State’s employers started recruiting workers from Puerto Rico after World War II. People from Puerto Rico continued to move to Ohio throughout the 20th century, joining relatives and the Puerto Rican communities in the former steel belt. More came after Hurricane Maria.