Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has a population of around 3.3 million. The San Juan-Caguas area is the largest of the island’s seven metropolitan areas, representing roughly 75 percent of the island’s economy. Puerto Rico has suffered from a severe and prolonged economic slump for more than a decade, with GDP, population, and employment all on a downward trend since 2006 when a tax incentive for manufacturers—Section 936—was phased out. The pharmaceuticals industry remains a key part of the island’s economy, though employment in this industry has been cut in half since the phase-out began. While Puerto Rico’s tourism sector is relatively small, it is one of the few industries that has been adding jobs in recent years. In addition, a fledgling aerospace industry has emerged around Aguadilla and Arecibo. Wages and educational attainment in Puerto Rico tend to be about half the level of the mainland, and income inequality is considerably higher. The island also suffers from high debt and has been dealing with a fiscal crisis. Hurricane Maria in 2017 had a severe effect on the island, causing the most extensive blackout in U.S. history and exacerbating preexisting economic difficulties.

Economic and Demographic Trends
Puerto Rico     U.S.
Virgin Islands*
Population1 3,194,000     107,000 328,240,000
Pop growth, 10-year change1 -15.0%     -1.6% 7.0%
GDP, billions1 $105     $4 $21,433
Job growth, 5-year change1 -3.1%     -2.0% 8.6%
Median household income1 $20,230     n/a $65,000
Median home price1 $100,000     n/a $230,000
Pop share age 25+ with BA+1 27.2%     n/a 33.1%

1 2019

* Neighboring Metros

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; IPUMS USA-University of Minnesota; Government of Puerto Rico Planning Board. Data retrieved through data.census.gov, Moody's Economy.com, or directly from source.

Reports & Analysis
Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Hub
2014 Update on the Competitiveness of the Puerto Rico Economy (2014)
2012 Report on the Competitiveness of the Puerto Rico Economy (2012)
Puerto Rico Economic Indicators (detailed data and timely updates)
Regional Employment Trends (May 23, 2022)
Press Briefing on the Regional Economic Recovery (Dec 17, 2021)
Jaison Abel's Briefing on Economic Conditions in the Region (Nov 5, 2021)
Tracking the Spread of COVID-19 in the Region (Aug 27, 2020)
Jason Bram's Briefing on Regional Economic Conditions During the Pandemic (July 14, 2020)
Growth Has Slowed across the Region (Dec 17, 2019)
U.S. Virgin Islands Struggle While Puerto Rico Rebounds (Oct 2, 2019)
Cómo incentivar las inversiones en desarrollo comunitario en Puerto Rico (Jul 30, 2019)
Enhancing Community Development Investments in Puerto Rico (Jul 16, 2019)
President Williams’ Regional Visit to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Mar, 2019)
Latino-Owned Businesses: Shining a Light on National Trends (released Nov 2018)
Puerto Rico Post-Maria: Twelve Months of Hardship (Sep 28, 2018)
Puerto Rico Small Businesses and the 2017 Hurricanes (Sep 27, 2018)
U.S. Virgin Islands' Economy Hit Hard by Irma and Maria (Jul 9, 2018)
Just Released: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria (Feb 22, 2018)
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