Puerto Rico’s Population Stabilized

Puerto Rico’s population stabilized during the year that ended July 1, 2019, according to new, similar estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the territory’s Statistics Institute, which works with the Federal agency.

The estimates indicate a reversal of a 15-year decline that reduced the population from approximately 3.85 million to just under 3.2 million.

The Federal and territorial agencies put the population as of this past July 1st at 3,193,694. The Puerto Rico institute says that this is an increase of 340 from the year before. The Census has the July 1, 2018 population at 3,195,153.

The decrease between July 1, 2017 and a year later was put at 131,932, an amount that was increased by Hurricane Maria in September 2017 but kept up a pace of decline before as well, most of it due to migration from a territory to a State.

During the 2018-’19 year there were only about 21,000 births compared with 28,000 deaths, continuing a new phenomenon in which the natural changes in the population are negative.

The Institute attributes the stabilization in population to residents who left the territory after Maria returning, particularly as the job count turned from negative to slightly positive due to hurricane recovery, even though federal assistance has been slower than hoped.

Some observers noted that the estimates contradict the PROMESA Financial Board’s projections of a continued decrease, one of several areas in which the Board has been proved wrong in its estimating used for debt reduction proposals as well as fiscal plans and budgets for the territory. Others involved in the estimating process, however, suggest that the actual count of of this year’s Census would provide more reliable information and that the 2018-’19 stabilization would be a one-year event.

The 2010 Census counted 3,725,789 people in Puerto Rico. The count was 3,808,610 for the 2000 Census, when the population was still increasing, as it had been since the U.S. acquisition of the islands in 1898.

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