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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

US Census: Some 96% of island towns have lost population

Guánica leads the way, while Rincón, Naranjito and Barranquitas grew slightly

By The Star Staff

The U.S. Census Bureau on Monday released the most recent Annual Population Estimates data for Puerto Rico’s municipalities, as well as counties in U.S. states, reporting that as of April 1, 2020, 96% of the island municipalities had lost population since July 1, 2013.

The statistics include estimates of the total population for each municipality and population change in the current decade. On behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Network of Census Data and Information Centers in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics reported several findings from the new publication of population estimates for 2023:

Compared to the 2020 Decennial Census with a reference date of April 1, 2020, versus the most recent year available, July 1, 2023, estimates indicate that: Changes in the resident population in the municipalities ranged from 1.6% to -10.05; in 96% of the municipalities, a population decrease was estimated. In the municipalities of Rincón, Naranjito and Barranquitas, however, a slight increase was estimated (0.1%– 1.6%). Some seven municipalities reflected an estimated reduction equal to or greater than 5% within the period compared. The total population of all of Puerto Rico is estimated to have decreased by 2.4%, translating into about 80,000 fewer residents than in April 2020.

Regarding the geographical dimension between the municipalities, the interactive map available on provides the geographical distribution of the change in the total population estimated until 2023. On the map it can be seen that:

The seven municipalities with the highest percentages of population decrease were Guánica (-10.0%), Loíza (-5.9%), Guayanilla (-5.5%), Ponce (-5.3%), Yauco (5.2%), Guayama (-5.0%) and Yabucoa (-5.0%); five of the seven municipalities are located in southern Puerto Rico, with Loíza and Yabucoa in the northeast and eastern regions, respectively.

The seven municipalities with the lowest percentages of population decline were Aibonito (-0.1%), Isabela (-0.3%), Moca (-0.4%), Dorado (-0.5%), Corozal (-0.6%), Camuy (-0.6%) and Adjuntas (-0.7%).

“The general trend in population decline is maintained in the municipalities, an aspect that began in the jurisdiction nearly two decades ago (2005),” said Alberto Velázquez Estrada, senior manager of statistical projects at the institute, in a written statement. “The phenomenon of the reduction [involves] greater caution in several municipalities where the rate indicates to be five percent or more in just three years of the current decade, according to the new estimates.”

As an interactive summary, the institute published a visualization that allows the user to see the new series of estimates at the municipal level, thus facilitating the geographical comparison within Puerto Rico. The visualization can be accessed at:

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