The island has more than twice the poverty rate
than Mississippi, the poorest state in the United States.


Population:* 2.982 million
Poverty rate: 18.7%
Child poverty rate: 27.0%.

*2020 Census

Puerto Rico

Population:* 3,318,447 million
Poverty rate: 44%
Child poverty rate: 57.0%

*2020 Census

At the BECAUSE of Poverty/Child PovertyFoundation we firmly believe that in order to attack a problem, the first thing to do is to be fully aware of its existence and never downplay its seriousness.

To get a general idea of the existing poverty in Puerto Rico in statistical terms, we show you some real data based on studies carried out by the Federal Census Bureau:

- 60% of the population of 6 towns in Puerto Rico live in poverty.

- 70% of the child population of 7 towns in Puerto Rico live in poverty.

- 50% of the child population in 36 villages live in poverty.

- Nearly half of Puerto Rico's population of Puerto Rico lives in a state of poverty

For more specific numerical data on per capita income, the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN), employment status and other population figures for Puerto Rico's 6 municipalities with the greatest need, we invite you to take a look at our interactive map.

These towns with high levels of poverty are: Maricao, Lajas, Guánica, Adjuntas, Jayuya and Comerío.

The problem of poverty in Puerto Rico is so serious that it is not only reflected in its high rates in many towns, but also permeates our daily lives and we can feel it in the populations of neglected children and the elderly who, due to the needs they suffer, even die, inhumane living conditions, hospitals and health services in terrible conditions, as well as deteriorated schools or the lack of police; these are just a few examples.

It is not about seeing the problem from afar as something foreign, because this reality affects the quality of life of all Puerto Ricans. If we do not deny this harsh reality and help those who need it most, we help ourselves.

We want to be a beacon of awareness for this cause. Support us and we will be informing you on how you can do your bit for a more egalitarian Puerto Rico with the quality of life we all deserve.

50% or more of the population in 36 municipalities of Puerto Rico live in poverty.

This is indicated by the most recent estimates from the Community Survey


In a list of 100 countries around the world, Puerto Rico ranks as the country with the second highest poverty rate. In a panel held at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico in 2020, Dr. Lourdes de Cárdenas indicated that it also reflects the lowest numbers in labor participation.

These statistics refer to information collected for a 5-year period, from 2014 to 2018. The new publication provides data on demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics for Puerto Rico and municipalities, as well as for specific geographic levels such as neighborhoods, census tracts and block groups.

  •  "The level of poverty continues to be high, around Puerto Rico, in percentage terms. The geographic distribution indicates that with the exception of Loíza, Juncos and Yabucoa in the eastern region, the highest percentages are concentrated in central, southern and western regions of Puerto Rico. On the other hand, most of the municipalities with the lowest poverty percentages were found around the metropolitan area, with the exception of San Juan and Cataño," said Alberto L. Velázquez-Estrada, the Institute's Statistical Projects Manager.
  • For the purposes of this Survey, persons in poverty are determined by thresholds generated annually by the U.S. Census Bureau.
    The thresholds establish an amount of total income that a household, family and its variants would have, based on family size and composition. If the household generates less than the threshold, then the household and its members are termed in poverty.
    For example, a three-person household with an annual family income of less than $19,985 is classified as a family in poverty.
  • On behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau's State Data Center Network in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute (Institute) presents several results of interest.
  • During the 2014-2018 period, among the economic characteristics of Puerto Rico and its municipalities, it was found that:

      • 36 of the 78 municipalities had 50% or more of their population living in poverty.
      • Of those 36 municipalities, in 6 of them the poverty level reached between 60% to 64%, being these:
      • Maricao, Guánica, Adjuntas, Lajas, Jayuya and Comerío.
      • In other words, 6 out of every 10 people in the aforementioned municipalities are in poverty.
      • In Puerto Rico, 44.5% of the population and 40.9% of families live in poverty.
      • On the other hand, median household income decreased in 50 municipalities.
        The municipalities of Jayuya, Cidra and Camuy registered the greatest decreases, all three with statistically significant differences.
      • In Puerto Rico, the median household income decreased significantly by 4.9%, translating to about $1,047 per year.

Data sources and methodology:

  • *Population and poverty: Population and poverty data by municipality are drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 Puerto Rico Community Survey 5-year estimates as this is the latest population information available.
  • Historical Poverty Tables: People and Families - 1959 to 2020

  • The Puerto Rican Economy: Historical Perspectives and Current Challenges

  • Puerto Rico - US Census 2020 Bureau QuickFacts

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