Puerto Rico Lost Nearly 130,000 Residents after Hurricane Maria

The Census Bureau’s newest population estimates claim that the number of residents in Puerto Rico fell by nearly 130,000 between July 2017 and July 2018.

This comes to a 3.9% drop in population in a single year.

Puerto Rico had a population of 3,726,157 in 2010. The current population stands at 3,195,153. This is a total loss of more than five hundred thousand people.

Puerto Rico’s population has been dwindling for at least a decade as people move to states for better job opportunities, healthcare, and most recently as a response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

The PROMESA oversight board’s current fiscal plan assumes a 1-2% population drop in recent years will drop to .7% in 2023.

Aging population

81.4% of Puerto Rico’s residents are 18 or older, according to the latest Census Bureau data. This is almost the highest proportion in the United States. Vermont has 81.5% adults and Maine has 81.3% adults, but most States have 75 to 80% adults. A smaller proportion of children can be a problem for future economic growth.

Puerto Rico’s birth rate before the 2017 hurricane season had shrunk to 1.3 children per woman. This compares with 1.8 in the United States as a whole.

Recent Census Bureau reports show that 19% of Puerto Rico’ population is 65 or older. This data predates Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico has much lower labor force participation than any state. Keeping working age people in Puerto Rico or persuading them to return to the Island may be key to economic recovery.

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