A total of 4.2 million Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin resided in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in 2008, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That is a slightly greater number than the population of Puerto Rico itself in 2008, which was 4.0 million. Puerto Ricans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin; this means either they themselves were born in Puerto Rico or they trace their family ancestry to Puerto Rico. This statistical profile focuses on the characteristics of Puerto Ricans residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, henceforth the United States.1
Puerto Ricans are the second-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for 8.9% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2008. Mexicans constituted 30.7 million, or 65.7%, of the Hispanic population.2 This profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of Puerto Ricans with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall. It is based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the 2008 American Community Survey. Key facts include:
- Immigration status. Most Puerto Ricans in the United States—2.8 million in all—were born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Additionally, one-third of the Puerto Rican population in the U.S.—1.3 million—was born in Puerto Rico. People born in Puerto Rico are also considered native born because they are U.S. citizens by birth. A small number of people of Puerto Rican origin—46,000—were born outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico and were not U.S. citizens by birth. They are considered foreign born.
- Language. Eight-in-ten Puerto Ricans (80.5%) speak English proficiently.3 Some 19.5% of Puerto Ricans ages 5 and older report speaking English less than very well, compared with 37.3% of all Hispanics.
- Age. Puerto Ricans are younger than the U.S. population and older than Hispanics overall. The median age of Puerto Ricans is 29; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 36 and 27, respectively.
- Marital status. Puerto Ricans are less likely than Hispanics overall to be married—37.3% versus 46.5%.
- Fertility. Nearly six-in-ten (57.1%) of Puerto Rican women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was greater than the rate for all Hispanic women—38.8%—and the rate for U.S. women—34.5%.
- Regional dispersion. A majority of Puerto Ricans (55.4%) live in the Northeast, mostly in the New York (26.0%). Nearly three-in-ten (27.9%) Puerto Ricans live in the South, mostly in Florida (17.9%).
- Educational attainment. Puerto Ricans have higher levels of education than the Hispanic population overall. Twenty-seven percent of Puerto Ricans ages 25 and older—compared with 39.2% of all U.S. Hispanics—have not obtained at least a high school diploma.
- Income. The median annual personal earnings for Puerto Ricans ages 16 and older were $26,478 in 2008; the median earnings for all U.S. Hispanics were $21,488.
- Poverty status. The share of Puerto Ricans who live in poverty, 22.6%, is higher than the rate for the general U.S. population (12.7%) and similar to the 20.7% share among all Hispanics.
- Health Insurance. Nearly one-in-six Puerto Ricans (15.6%) do not have health insurance compared with 31.7% of all Hispanics and 15.4% of the general U.S. population. Additionally, 8.1% of Puerto Ricans younger than 18 are uninsured.
- Homeownership. The rate of Puerto Rican homeownership (40.3%) is lower than the rate for all Hispanics (49.1%) and the U.S. population (66.6%) as a whole.
About the Data
This statistical profile of Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin is based on the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the largest household survey in the United States, with a sample of about 3 million addresses. The data used for this statistical profile come from 2008 ACS Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), representing a 1% sample of the U.S. population.
Like any survey, estimates from the ACS are subject to sampling error and (potentially) measurement error. Information on the ACS sampling strategy and associated error is available at www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS/accuracy2008.pdf. An example of measurement error is that citizenship rates for the foreign born are estimated to be overstated in the Decennial Census and other official surveys, such as the ACS (see Jeffrey Passel. “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization,” Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2008)). Finally, estimates from the ACS may differ from the Decennial Census or other Census Bureau surveys due to differences in methodology and data collection procedures (see, for example, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/Report10.pdf and http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS/ASA_nelson.pdf).