Puerto Ricans in a nutshell

The United States acquired Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship.

The first major wave of Puerto Rican migration to the mainland was in the 1950s, when a half million persons migrated. As of 2011, per the Pew Research Center, an estimated 4.9 million Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin resided on mainland U.S. That was more than the population of Puerto Rico itself in 2011, which was 3.7 million. Migration to the mainland has been heavy since the start of the Great Recession.

Puerto Ricans are the second-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for 9.5% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2011, after Mexicans (33.5 million, or 64.6%, of the Hispanic population in 2011).

In 2011, 69% of Puerto Ricans were born on the mainland. People born in Puerto Rico are also considered native born because they are U.S. citizens by birth.

82% of Puerto Ricans ages 5 and older speak English proficiently.

Puerto Ricans are concentrated in the Northeast (53%), mostly in New York (23%), and in the South (30%), mostly in Florida (18%).

Puerto Ricans have higher levels of education than the Hispanic population overall but lower levels than the U.S. population overall. Some 16% of Puerto Ricans ages 25 and older—compared with 13% of all U.S. Hispanics and 29% among the U.S. population—have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.

The share of Puerto Ricans who live in poverty, 28%, is higher than the rate both for the general U.S. population (16%) and for Hispanics overall (26%). In 2016, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate was more than double that of the mainland.


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