Summary Background


Total Population


Southern Puerto Rico EDD

Median Age


Southern Puerto Rico EDD

Percent Bachelor's Degree or Higher


Southern Puerto Rico EDD

Median Household Income


Southern Puerto Rico EDD

Population loss in the SPREDD region is a consequence of job loss. Pew Research has stated that employment opportunities are the primary driver of out-migration from Puerto Rico. Since 2006, SPREDD’s region has realized a 23% decrease in population, which equates to nearly 79,000 residents.10 In fact, SPREDD’s region has realized population losses nearly every year since 2006, while Puerto Rico has seen a decrease in population of 16% during this timeframe.11

Poverty rates have also increased as a direct result of the enduring recession, job loss, and outmigration. According to the latest Census data, Puerto Rico is burdened with a poverty rate of 43.1%, which is 3.3x the national rate of 13.1, and more than twice as much as the poorest state (Mississippi). The six municipalities comprising SPREDD have a poverty rate of 52.6%.12

According to many stakeholders, younger individuals will move to the U.S. for economic opportunities, and many return to Puerto Rico to retire or possibly care for ailing parents. Chart 8 (below) indicates this pattern occurs in the SPREDD region, as the only age group increasing are those 65 years and over. The highest levels of out-migration are among those 25 to 44 years of age. This pattern of outmigration by the young (for economic opportunities) and returning to the Island to retire are contributing factors to Puerto Rico’s low Labor Force Participation Rate, which is currently13 40.3% according to the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico. By contrast, the U.S. Labor Force Participation Rate is currently 61.5%.14 LFPRs by municipalities in Puerto Rico are not calculated; however, using labor force numbers from the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources for the six municipalities and the population 18 and over (Chart 7, below), the estimated LFPR for SPREDD is 36.9%.

Chart 6: Population Changes Source: U.S. Census Intercensal Estimates

Chart 7: Labor Force Participation Rates 2020 Sources: BLS, Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources and U.S. Census Bureau

Chart 8: SPREDD Age Demographics Source: U.S. Census Bureau; 2019 American Community Survey 5 Year Estimates


10. U.S. Census Intercensal Estimates

11. U.S. Census Intercensal Estimates

12. U.S. Census Bureau ACS 5-year 2019. For additional details, see Table on Page 15

13. February 2021

14. BLS February 2021