The Pew Research Center has published an analysis of the most recent U.S. Census data on Puerto Rico’s population. Census data provides the most accurate information on population, but it takes time. Pew’s analysis basically confirms previous estimates: Puerto Rico’s population dropped severely after Hurricane Maria and continues to decline.
The 3.9% decline in 2018 represents the largest year-to-year drop since 1950, the first year for which annual data is available.
The number of people in Puerto Rico has dropped by 632,000 since its peak in 2004. Even before the hurricanes hit, Puerto Rico’s population was expected to drop to less than 3 million by 2025, according to projections published in 2017. The mid-2000s marked a turning point for the island’s economy, when it entered a recession from which it has not recovered. Since then, many Puerto Ricans have left the island for the U.S. mainland, in particular for Florida, often citing job- and family-related reasons.
An aging population
In 2008, Puerto Rico’s median age was 36. By 2018, it had risen to 43. 14% of the population was 65 or older in 2008, and that figure is now 21%.