Summary of the Puerto Community Survey Data for 2009

Summary of the Puerto Community Survey Data for 2009

Published on October 12, 2010

Sergio portrait
Policy Director

The U.S. Bureau of the Census recently released data from the Puerto Rico Community Survey for 2009.  This survey is the Puerto Rico equivalent of the American Community Survey.  The data offers a sobering reminder of Puerto Rico’s economic situation.  The following are some of the highlights from the data released by the Census:

  1. The total number of households declined for the third year in a row.  Household formation is one of the key drivers of housing demand.  Between 2006 and 2009 the number of households in Puerto Rico declined from 1,240,456 to 1,181,112, a reduction of 59,334 households, which is equivalent to a 4.78% decrease.  However, according to the Puerto Rico Planning Board, during that time period some 43,170 new housing units were built in Puerto Rico.  This data is indicative of a structural mismatch between housing demand and supply in Puerto Rico, which is unlikely to be fixed with short-term tax incentives.
  2. The population older than 16 was estimated at 3,124,501 persons.  Of that amount, some 1,639,403 persons, or 52.5%, were out of the labor force, while 1,202,367 persons were employed and some 280,773 persons were unemployed.
  3. The population 25 and older increased from 2,571,234 in 2008 to 2,595,507 in 2009.  However, the number of people with graduate or professional degrees decreased from 144,935 to 137,694, a 5% reduction.
  4. Income per capita in Puerto Rico declined from $10,022 in 2008 to $9,811 in 2009.
  5. The number of households reporting receipt of funds from the Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP) increased from 392,710 to 415,075.  In 2009, 35.1% of all households in Puerto Rico participated in this federal program.  This is the highest participation level in the United States.
  6. In 2009, 41.3% of all families and 45% of all persons residing in Puerto Rico reported income under the federal poverty level.  For certain sub-groups the incidence of poverty is much higher.  For example, 51.3% of all families with children 18 or younger and 68.5% of all single mothers with children 18 or younger lived in poverty in Puerto Rico in 2009.

In sum, the economic picture presented by the Bureau of the Census is quite somber and highlights once again the need to restore economic growth and create new jobs in Puerto Rico.