Most People Left During Island's Economic Decline
WASHINGTON - The United States Census Bureau announced that Puerto Rico's population dropped nearly 10% over the past ten years. The island's population was at 3.8 million in 2004 but is now estimated at less than 3.5 million. Of the 330,000 people who left, the majority left in the past five years. The US territory is embroiled in financial crisis and according to the island's Governor, Puerto Rico could default on its $72 billion debt in January or May.
"The Census numbers reflect how deeply the crisis is hurting the millions of Americans who call Puerto Rico home," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. "Nobody should have to leave their family and community behind out of desperation."
According to the Census Bureau's report, the only US state to lose population over the past five years was West Virginia, which lost less than 20,000 residents compared to Puerto Rico's 251,975.
Congress is currently debating laws to address Puerto Rico's debt crisis. Speaker Paul Ryan promised the House of Representatives would address the crisis by March. Various observers note that the US Treasury and Federal Reserve also have tools to intervene in the growing economic crisis.
"The US Government needs to act immediately," noted LeCompte. "With no action, Puerto Rico's crisis deepens every day."
Read the latest Census Bureau report.
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 80 religious denominations and faith communities, human rights, environmental, labor, and community groups working for the definitive cancellation of crushing debts to fight poverty and injustice in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.