October 30, 2015

In a shift away from New York, more Puerto Ricans head to Florida

Florida’s Puerto Rican Population Surpasses 1 Million, Rivaling New York

The number of Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin living in Florida has surpassed 1 million for the first time, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data, more than doubling the state’s Puerto Rican population over the past 14 years.

The analysis of 2014 data, the most recent available, finds that the number of Puerto Ricans in Florida has increased 110% since 2000, when their population was 479,000. This outpaces the state’s total population growth rate (24%), as well as that of Hispanics overall (78%) during this period.

The trend comes as the island’s economic recession has led many residents of the U.S. territory to look for opportunities on the U.S. mainland, and as more Puerto Ricans move to Florida from other states. 

Florida Favored by Puerto Ricans From the Island and From Other StatesThe population shift also marks an important change in where Puerto Ricans choose to live. New York has long had the nation’s biggest Puerto Rican population on the mainland. However, Florida’s population of Puerto Ricans has quickly risen since 2000, while the group’s population in the Empire State has stayed relatively flat. What’s more, from 2005, a year before the island’s recession began, to 2013, New York saw a net loss of Puerto Ricans to other states that was larger than Florida’s corresponding net gain. As a result, about as many Puerto Ricans live in Florida today as in New York.

These changes could help shape the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Florida is again expected to be a battleground state, and its growing Hispanic population could be more important than ever in determining which candidate wins the state.

Puerto Ricans have primarily settled in Florida’s largest metro areas, with Orlando leading the way. In 2013, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro region had the highest number of Puerto Ricans in the state, at 314,000. That figure was up by 41,000 (15%) over the previous year, the largest increase by number of any Florida metro area.

But even Florida’s smaller metro areas are seeing a significant influx of Puerto Ricans. The Port St. Lucie area saw its Puerto Rican population surge 64% (7,500 residents) in 2013 over the previous year, among the largest percentage increases in the state.

Other demographic changes are also underway. Puerto Ricans’ increasing numbers in Florida mean that they have started to close the gap with Cubans as the state’s biggest Hispanic-origin group. Florida’s Cuban population, at 1.4 million in 2014, has grown 65% since 2000, a more modest pace than that of the Puerto Rican population.

Topics: Latin America, Immigration Trends, Population Geography

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Joe Dubya1 year ago

    I’m Puerto Rican but I live in Texas. I would never live in Florida again. I lived there in 2010 due to the military duties and I detested it. There are 50 states to choose, I don’t get why the hell they choose Florida; is humid and is sinking.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Why did you not like it in Florida. I live in Orlando. What part of Florida ?

  2. Johnny Morales2 years ago

    The irony of this is rich.

    After Puerto Rico voted to become a state, the Republican controlled congress ignored their vote, because they believed such a state would produce 2 democratic senators and a house caucus of all democrats.

    As a result, PR has not had the powers states have to fix its economy and it’s tanked driving all these people to move to the mainland.

    Unexpectedly they decided to move to Florida which until now has always been in play in federal elections, because of the solid Cuban Republican vote.

    Now they are going to be canceled out along with a significant # of Republican votes in that state.

    Their impact was already being felt in 2008 and 2012. Puerto Rican votes carried the state for Pres. Obama.

    Now their numbers are bigger and still growing.

    The Republicans got their wish to punish Puerto Rico for demanding the Navy stop bombing at Viequez, but at the cost of losing a chance at winning Florida a key state in presidential elections.

    1. Joe Dubya1 year ago

      I remember the 2012 plebiscite. Not too many people know that it happened.

  3. Steve2 years ago

    Chicago also has a large PR population that started coming in the 50s.
    They came for the work, not to be a drain on society!

    1. t robinowitz2 years ago

      the only “drain” on American society are idiots who group people as a specific type
      with specific behaviors….

  4. Gustavo Mellander2 years ago

    Good article. Informative and accurate.

    I now live in Florida and the increase of PRs is obvious. Luckily most the ones I have met are professionally trained and have been able to secure employment within six months — but it’s not easy.

    Delighted author did not refer to PRs as immigrants. Like most educated people the author knows they have been citizens since 1917.

    Kudos — and to the group at Pew as well.

    Professor Gustavo A. Mellander, Ph.D., D.H.L.
    Graduate Dean Emeritus & Distinguished Prof.;
    George Mason Univer.
    Res. Tel. 561 691-5685

    1. Ken Marshall2 years ago

      “Delighted author did not refer to PRs as immigrants. Like most educated people the author knows they have been citizens since 1917.”

      Those are some old Puerto Ricans!

      1. Joe Dubya1 year ago

        The Jones act of 1917 granted Puerto Ricans with US citizenship.