Governor expresses concern over population drop as a reflection of lower birth rate
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Thursday that he is concerned about the Census data, specifically numbers that point to the decline in the birth rate on the island.
“That’s what’s impacting us the most at present,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “This is a matter of motivating couples and young people not to lose confidence in the future. That it is positive for Puerto Rico to increase our population.”
Asked if he will put together an educational campaign to help boost the birth rate, Pierluisi replied that “that can be done and should be done, and I must verbalize it whenever I have the opportunity to do it.”
Pierluisi noted that the Child Tax Credit now applies as an incentive. But he said a concrete plan to promote the raising of the birth rate in Puerto Rico is something that must be evaluated, adding that he will be “looking for ways and means to promote this.”
On Thursday the United States Census Bureau released the most recent Annual Population Estimates data for Puerto Rico municipalities, as well as counties in U.S. states.
“The pattern of population estimates continues to show the tendency to decrease, a feature of which at the level of Puerto Rico we are already approaching about two decades (since 2005) of there being an increasingly small resident population but of different demographic composition,” Alberto Velázquez Estrada, senior manager of statistical projects for the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, said in a written communication.
The latest statistics refer to the first of July 2022 and include estimates of the total population for each municipality and population change in the current decade.
The governor said the birth rate is worrisome because, in his opinion, outmigration has been brought under control.
“The 2% [drop] comes primarily from the drop in the birth rate,” he said.
As Puerto Rico is emerging as an island of mostly senior citizens, Pierluisi discussed what he will do to keep that population group active.
“What we are doing is that with advances in technology and health, we see that people are able to work longer in their lives and we see that many of these people want to work,” he said. “Maybe not the eight or 10 hours they worked before, but they are willing to work part-time and we are encouraging it in government for retired teachers, police and social workers to return to public service. We have legislated it and we are promoting it.”