Monday, February 10, 2014
Is Puerto Rico a tropical Detroit?
Puerto Rico, about 1,000 miles from Miami, has long been poor. Its per capita income is around $15,200, half that of Mississippi, the poorest state. In addition, 37% of all households receive food stamps; in Mississippi, the total is 22%. Puerto Rico’s drop in population has far outpaced that of American states. In 2011 and 2012, the population fell by nearly 1%, according to census figures. From July 2012 to July 2013, it declined again by 1%, or about 36,000 people. That is more than seven times the drop in West Virginia, the state with the steepest population losses. Of the island’s 3.67 million people, only one million work in the formal economy. The island has one of the lowest labor participation rates in the world, with only 41.3% of working-age Puerto Ricans in jobs; one in four works for the government. There were 1,136 murders in 2011, a record and far higher than the mainland’s rate.