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El context econòmic de Puerto Rico

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Puerto Rico's GDP grew by an estimated 4.8% in 2021, mainly driven by investments in the defence and healthcare industries. Looking ahead, according to he IMF, Puerto Rico's GDP is expected to have a growth of 0.4% in 2023 and a negative growth of 1.6% in 2024, mainly due to the bankruptcy of the central government.

The Puerto Rican economy has been suffering a recession for over a decade, which has led to high levels of debt. In 2022, however, public debt significantly decreased to 16% of GDP, a rate that is expected to continue declining, reaching 14.8% of GDP in 2023 and 14.2% in 2024. Inflation increased to 4.4% in 2022, but it is expected to decrease to 3.5% in 2023 and 2.4% in 2024. The island has been grappling with the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history (USD 71.5 billion in bonds and USD 50 billion in pension bonds) since 2017, when the economy was devastated by Hurricane Maria. There was a bounce-back in 2019, fuelled by disaster relief funding, which was expected to continue as more federal reconstruction funding rebuilt the island’s infrastructure. However, the pandemic let to a redistribution of funding. Although both the sanitary and fiscal measures implemented by the government in light of the pandemic have been effective, Puerto Rico was already facing significant economic issues when the pandemic hit, so the impact of COVID-19 compounded on a preexisting crisis. Still, despite a complicated situation, the government seeks to increase foreign investment through public-private partnerships and avoid the downgrading of its credit rating, so as not to lose access to financing.

The unemployment rate decreased to an estimated 6% in 2022, and it is expected to increase to 7.9% in 2023 and 8.8% in 2024. Furthermore, many Puerto Ricans have informal jobs that do not qualify them for unemployment benefits and, due to the pandemic, a large percentage of informal workers lost their jobs, which drove them into poverty. Additionally, the overall lack of opportunities in the island has resulted in significant migration outflows, as an increasing number of Puerto Ricans continue to emigrate to the United States. With the destruction of nearly half a million homes after hurricane Maria and increased unemployment brought on by the pandemic, nearly half of the population still lives below the poverty line. The island has also been dealing with a wave of violence and crime, primarily linked to gang activity and drug trafficking. Furthermore, in January 2021, the government declared a state of emergency due to gender-based violence, after a wave of killings targeting women and transgender people.

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 103.02106.53116.46120.84121.53
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 32,60833,28936,79838,56739,180
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 50.248.816.315.214.6
Inflation Rate (%) -
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD)
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

Puerto Rico has very limited natural resources, with arable land being one of the country's most important natural resources. However, despite its importance, only 6% of the island's total area is considered arable. Still, Puerto Rican agriculture produces sugar cane, coffee, pineapple, plantains, animal products and chickens - among other products. Puerto Rico faces some challenges in achieving full utilisation of its agricultural potential, mainly due to the low number of people willing to work in the agricultural sector. As a result, the island imports about 85% of its food needs, even though most of their land is fertile. Overall, agriculture accounts for just 0.7% of Puerto Rico's GDP and employs 2.1% of the labour force. Given the size of the agricultural industry, the sector wasn't particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic led Puerto Rico to analyse their agricultural industry in order to reduce their reliance on imports of food and increase local production, leading the government to plan an expansion of the agricultural sector in the coming years.

The Puerto Rican industry sector mainly produces drugs, electronic devices, petrochemicals, processed foods, clothing and textiles. In general, the country's industry has shifted from industrial production relying on labour (food industry, tobacco, copper and textiles) to a capital-based service industry. Industry accounts for 50% of GDP and employs 19% of the labour force. Industrial activity in Puerto Rico continued to experience growth in 2022, registering a steady recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.

The service industry's main sectors include tourism, finance, insurance, trade, real estate, transportation and utilities. Services represent the second largest share in the Puerto Rican economy, with 48.9% of GDP, and it employs 79% of the labour force. However, it is estimated that the pandemic had three times the impact on tourism than Hurricane Maria had in 2017. Still, the tourism sector managed to continue recovering in 2022, with the number of tourists in the island bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 2.1 19.0 79.0
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.7 50.0 48.9

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database, ; World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Actualitzacions: September 2023

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