Puerto Rico Lost 130,000 Residents After Maria Hit, Census Says

(Bloomberg) -- Puerto Rico’s population, which has been shrinking for a decade, declined by 3.9 percent in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

An estimated 129,848 fewer people lived on the Caribbean island by July 1, 2018 than a year earlier, according to data released Wednesday. Maria slammed into the island on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying its electrical system and ripping apart homes. Nearly 3,000 people died, according to a report commissioned by Governor Ricardo Rossello.

“Puerto Rico has seen a steady decline in population over the last decade,” Sandra Johnson, a demographer/statistician in the Population Division of the Census Bureau, said in a statement. “Hurricane Maria in September of 2017 further impacted that loss, both before and during the recovery period.”

The U.S. Census estimates Puerto Rico’s 2018 population at 3,195,153, down 14.3 percent from 3,726,157 in 2010. A declining population, years of economic contraction and borrowing to fill budget shortfalls led to the commonwealth seeking in May 2017 to restructure most of its $74 billion of debt through bankruptcy.

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