Puerto Rico’s population is set to decrease by 14 per cent to 2.9 million inhabitants by 2019 due to an exodus of residents fleeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September, a study has found.
The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York estimated in a report released last month that about 114,000 to 213,000 Puerto Rican residents will leave the island annually “as a result of Hurricane Maria.”
Between 2017 and 2019, the US territory stands to lose 470,335 residents, it added.
“In the decade prior to Hurricane Maria, net migration from Puerto Rico to the United States amounted to approximately half a million, which represented a loss of ten per cent of the island’s population,” said report authors Edwin Melendez and Jennifer Hinojosa.
“In other words, Puerto Rico will lose the same population in a span of a couple of years after Hurricane Maria as the island lost during a prior decade of economic stagnation.”
Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have fled to the mainland since Maria struck on September 20, devastating the island, just two weeks after Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean.
The vast majority went to Florida and New York, which already had around one million Puerto Ricans each. Around 700,000 Puerto Ricans live in New York City.
Overall, there are five million Puerto Ricans on the US mainland, compared to 3.4 million on the island.
Source: Jamaica Observer