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Problems in Puerto Rico - 7/12/16

As indicated by writer Nick Timiraos, Puerto Rico has suffered a dive in population that is steeper and more financially disastrous than in any U.S. state since the end of World War II.  Over the past ten years, an exodus of workers, retirees and families as helped to shrink Puerto Rico’s population by more than nine percent to less than three point five million. 

Among other things, this loss of population has helped to shrink the economy and has robbed the territory of taxpayers who would otherwise help to repay its seventy billion dollar debt.  A decade-long recession has left one in nine residents out of work and approximately half dependent on their cash strapped government for healthcare. 

Puerto Ricans can migrate to the balance of America with no restriction, and two hundred and fifty thousand have migrated so far this decade.  Many have come for work.  Puerto Rico’s labor force has shrunk by roughly twenty percent over the past ten years compared with five percent growth in the U.S. 

Young families have also left in large numbers.  The population of Puerto Rican children under the age of five has declined by nearly forty percent since two thousand.  About one in five residents are at least sixty years old, a higher percentage than in any of the fifty U.S. states.    

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.