Puerto Rico’s uncertain future

by | Jun 22, 2016 | Economy, Headlines | Comments

Over the last few years, many U.S. citizens had not paid much attention to Puerto Rico’s growing economic problems. The economic problems went largely unnoticed by the average American citizen. Today, we see that Puerto Rico’s economic problems have become a crisis. They are in debt by more than $70 billion, truly an eye-staggering number. While Congress is trying to figure out solutions to this crisis, one has to wonder about the immediate effects this crisis has created.

[graphiq id=”7SI4IMybe0B” title=”Puerto Rico’s Public Debt as a Percentage of GNP” width=”600″ height=”493″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/7SI4IMybe0B” link=”https://www.graphiq.com/wlp/7SI4IMybe0B” link_text=”Puerto Rico’s Public Debt as a Percentage of GNP | Graphiq” ]

Recently, Puerto Rico’s government raised its sales tax percentage from 7% to 11.5%. This is the highest sales tax in America. Puerto Ricans pay three times more for electricity and water than those on America’s mainland. The Bureau of Labor Statistics for the United States Department of Labor reported an 11.4% unemployment rate for September 2015. More citizens are out of work, and the job market is losing valuable workers. The United States Census Bureau estimates that 46 percent of the population in Puerto Rico lived below the Federal Poverty Line in the last two years. This trend will continue as long as Puerto Rico is in this crisis.

[graphiq id=”lCo0d2JMEtL” title=”Unemployment Rate in Puerto Rico” width=”650″ height=”580″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/lCo0d2JMEtL” link=”http://country-facts.findthedata.com/l/236/Puerto-Rico” link_text=”Unemployment Rate in Puerto Rico | FindTheData” ]

The government of Puerto Rico will have to continue to cut programs and slash funds. Schools, hospitals, and retirement centers, among other institutions, will continue to lose much of their funding. With more institutions cutting funds, more citizens will be laid off of work. The unemployment rate can continue to rise in Puerto Rico. This presents another uncertain predicament. As the economic crisis continues to take effect and more people are losing their jobs, will many of them migrate to America’s mainland? Citizens who have the skills and desire to look for better opportunities have been doing so. The United States Census Bureau estimates that net migration during 2014 alone increased 31 percent from 2013 with a net sum of 64,000 Puerto Ricans, or 1.8 percent of the population, leaving the island in one year. The United States Census Bureau also estimates the total population of Puerto Rico in 2014 at 3,548,397. This amounts to a 4.76 percent drop from the 3,725,789 total population reported in the 2010 U.S. Census and a 7.52 percent drop from the 3,808,610 total population reported in the 2000 US Census. If this trend continues to rise then Puerto Rico could soon face a population problem unseen of in its years as a U.S. territory.

The uncertainties in Puerto Rico have escalated into new problems. The inability to contain this economic crisis has ushered in a new wave of problems for the Puerto Rican citizens. Congress must act fast on solving Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. They must act before other problems become paramount. The longer we wait, the more uncertainties Puerto Rico faces. Negative changes could happen in Puerto Rico, that could eventually, become irreversible.