a Ninth of Puerto Rico’s Population Moved From the Territory

  • The US Census Bureau released its first wave of 2020 Census data on Monday.
  • The newly released data show Puerto Rico lost a ninth of its population over the last decade.
  • Earthquakes and hurricanes crippled the territory’s infrastructure in recent years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Puerto Rico lost a ninth of its total population between 2010 and 2020, according to the newly announced 2020 Census data.

The territory’s total population decreased 11.8% over the past decade, the largest drop of any state or territory counted in the Census. In total, about 440,000 fewer Puerto Ricans were counted in the Census in 2020 than in 2010.

Additional insights from the new Census data include:

  • West Virginia lost the greatest number of residents and decreased by 3.2%.
  • Utah gained 18.4% and was the state with the largest percent growth.
  • The total population of US and Puerto Rico combined grew 7.1%.

Destructive hurricanes rocked Puerto Rico in 2017, devastating the territory and causing a temporary shutdown of its entire power grid, more than 40,000 landslides, and close to 3,000 deaths. The territory also experienced a series of destructive hurricanes in 2019 and 2020, including 11 that were categorized as magnitude 5 earthquakes or higher.

The federal government’s response to the natural disasters in the territory took years to fully take effect after President Donald Trump withheld nearly $13 billion in aid until 46 days before the 2020 presidential election. 

The majority of Puerto Rican residents voted in favor of US statehood in a referendum included in the 2020 election season. The House narrowly voted to add Washington, DC, as a state on April 22 but has yet to vote on Puerto Rico statehood since the referendum.

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