The rate of Puerto Ricans leaving the territory for a State may have tripled between 2013 and 2014, according to numbers from the insular government Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Net migration during the first six months of 2014 was 72,086 leaving Puerto Rico. This was three times the 24,308 during the first half of 2013.
The number of islanders voting for statehood for themselves with an airline ticket over people moving to Puerto Rico for the first three-quarters of 2014 was estimated by the agency to be 114,097. Net migration away from the territory for all of 2013 was 48,617. If the rate moving away during the first nine months of 2014 held for the final three months, the total for 2014 would be more than triple the number in 2013.
Net migration away from Puerto Rico was 45,636 in 2012; 37,701 in 2011; 43,773 in 2010, 18,389 in 2009; 38,936 in 2008; 46,447 in 2007; and 51,654 in 2006.
Combined with a decrease in the territory’s birth rate and an increase in its death rate — both due to a population that is getting older because the people who are moving away are younger — Puerto Ricans abandoning the territory for the greater opportunities and benefits in a State is resulting in an overall decline in the population.
The Federal Bureau of the Census’ July 1, 2014 estimate of Puerto Rico’s population was 3,548,397. This was a staggering drop of 177, 392 from the Census’ April 1, 2010 count of 3,725,789. It was also a decrease in the population since the count of April 1, 2000, when it was 3,808,610.
The July 1, 2014 estimate was, further, 44,472 below the estimate for July 1, 2013. And it was 7.3% less than the 3,826,878 estimated as of July 1, 2004.
The structural problems of the Commonwealth economy are believed to be one the primary reasons for the exodus but the migration out of Puerto Rico is itself contributing to the territory’s economic and budgetary problems.
- The labor force shrunk from 1,424,956 in January 2007 to 1,143,901 in November, and the number of people employed has gone down from 1,277,560 in April 2006 to 983,281 in November — the lowest since April 1992, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Deposits in commercial banks during the third quarter of calendar year 2014 were $984 million lower than during the same period of 2013, according to the Commissioner of Financial Institutions. The percentage decrease was 2.1% to $46.725 billion.
- Car sales fell in Puerto Rico last year, while they rose in the States.
- The value of building permits dropped 22.4% to $68.4 million during November, the lowest level in five months. The value was down 14.5% over the first 11 months of calendar year 2014. La Grande moving company, a Puerto Rican firm associated with the Mayflower moving company in the States, reports that more people are moving from Puerto Rico to the States on short notice for jobs, rather than waiting for the end of the school year.
Puerto Ricans continue to move to the Northeast, but increasingly are choosing Florida and other Southern states, as are Americans in general. Florida is actively encouraging population growth by inviting citizens to move to the State.
Only one State has seen a population loss of 1% during this century: Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, when large numbers of survivors were relocated to habitable areas in neighboring states.
Newspaper El Nuevo Dia recently published a chart showing estimates of future population numbers, if the current rate of population loss continues: