A count of more than 174,000 Puerto Ricans in the 2020 census, released today Tuesday by the US Census Bureau, further exacerbated the total population the island has lost over the past two decades, which could rise to 700,000. or 18.3%, according to the demographer Judith Rodriguez.
“From 2000 to 2020, according to the new figure, we have lost 700,000 people in Puerto Rico. This is about a fifth of the population we had in 2000 compared to today. When we talk about the period from 2010 to 2020, this figure gives me 614,000 people, that is, the largest decrease in our population occurred between 2010 and 2020 in a relatively short period of time,” Rodriguez explained in a telephone interview with New day.
The federal Census Bureau’s announcement shows a 5.7% overpopulation, according to the post-2020 Census (PES) survey. In this manner, The population of Puerto Rico decreased as of April 1, 2020 from 3,285,874 to 3,111,874 residents.
PES also found overcounting in 3.6% of the population aged 30 to 49 and 9.7% of those aged 50 and over; as well as 5.7% for men and 7.3% for women. In addition, there was an overestimation of women aged 30–49 (4.9%), women aged 50 and over (11%), and men aged 50 and over (8.3%).
In addition, the estimated recount of people in owner-occupied housing units is 8.6%.
“Firstly, I knew that (the census) was always inflated because there were many problems with the preparation for the census. First, this is At the governmental level, no importance was attached to the conduct of the census, which is a necessary activity in order to have a starting point that reflects reality. because, unlike a survey, a census is a count of all residents, and this is extremely important when a person has limited economic resources,” Rodriguez added.
According to modest estimates by demographers, by 2030 the population could be reduced to 2.7 million people. However, this data does not take into account the update in the 2020 Census.
“If things get worse, we will have a ghost country”Rodriguez noted. “There is no level of awareness of what is happening and this could affect the allocation of federal funds. The census is the starting point for making better decisions.”
The expert noted that the decline in population is partly due to a drop in the birth rate. He added the collapse of what is known as “positive natural growth”, which is the difference between those who are born and those who die.
“Since 2016, Puerto Rico has had more deaths than births. What we call natural increase becomes natural population decline, which, accompanied by negative net migration, was responsible for all this, but these are variables that respond to all the economic, social and political characteristics of the country,” he specified. . . .
In April 2021, the Census Bureau revealed that Puerto Rico has lost 11.8% of its population over the past decade, becoming the jurisdiction with the highest population loss in all of the United States. West Virginia followed by a wide margin, down 3.2%.
Former director of the Puerto Rico Census Bureau. Lilian Torres described as a “perfect storm” the circumstances that led to the recount of thousands of people that do not exist in Puerto Rico, including natural events such as Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the 2020 earthquakes, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. But also, he pointed out, there were administrative and operational failures.
“There were failures during the operation phase. The consequences of these failures led to a poor census, resulting in inaccurate data being collected. In the case of Puerto Rico, it was a disaster.”Torres noted.
One of the shortcomings he identified was the LUCA (Local Updated Census Addresses) program, whereby the Census Bureau invites mayors, known in English as “official top elected”, who are tasked with updating the geographic maps of their respective cities. Participation in this program is optional, and according to Torres, many have not.
“In 2020, many municipalities did not participate for various reasons. There are those who sign, and then do not perform the work. If he signs and does not do the work, then who should do it, in which case it is the Institute of Statistics, and it was uphill … It affects because you do not update the geography of the municipality, because if a hurricane comes, you need to update, because that the hurricane took the roads,” he said.
The Statistical Institute was not available for comment.
In addition to potentially losing federal funds, Rodriguez said one of the main consequences of miscalculation could be in manufacturing and service delivery, “because you won’t have customers.”
“This will have economic repercussions in the country, which could lead to business closures, service closures and more professionals.”he stressed.
He added the possibility of what he called “golden migration,” which refers to people of advanced age who have economic resources and who, given the serious problems with the provision of medical services on the island, decide to also move from Puerto Rico.
Finally, both Rodriguez and Torres raised the flag on what will now happen with the new election map based on the 2020 census, which was unveiled in July and will run for the next 10 years.
“The district consists of 175,000 people. How many fewer people? 174,000 people”Rodriguez supported.
“If they’re going to check it out, they’ll have to run”concluded, for his part, Torres.