Este informe no está disponible en español.


Puerto Rico’s Labor Mobility Edged Up

Only 15 municipalities receive more non-resident workers daily than the residents that leave to work in other municipalities.


November 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The movement of workers between municipalities has increased markedly in Puerto Rico in the last 30 years, according to the Economic Report to the Governor 1999 issued recently by the Puerto Rico Planning Board (PRPB).

In 1960, when the island’s economy was in the middle of a transformation, only 16% of the labor force worked outside their residential municipalities. By 1990, this figure had risen to 43% and it may be close to 50% at present (although we won’t be certain until the year 2000 Census is published.)

The PRPB information is based on data from the 1990 Census of Population, which illustrates a ten-year-old portrait of the island population.

"The reason for this increase in inter-municipality labor mobility is the accelerated economic development of Puerto Rico in the second half of the 20th century. It transformed from an agrarian and rural society into a predominantly industrial and urban economy," Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Puerto Rico (BBVA–Puerto Rico) stated in its bimonthly economic newsletter–Claves Economicas: Puerto Rico.

In addition, the movement of workers between municipalities also edged up to 30.8% and 38.6% in 1970 and 1980, respectively.

BBVA also pointed out, "…That the process also shows the effect of the urban sprawl and sub-urbanization on…the island… in the past few decades, with its emphasis on the automobile and road network."

In 1990, according to PRPB, only 15 municipalities received more non-resident workers daily than they had residents who worked outside the municipality. These municipalities are: Barceloneta, San Juan, Mayaguez, Guayama, Mariacao, Aguadilla, Humacao, Manati, Ceiba, Ponce, Cataño, Arecibo, Vieques, Fajardo, and Culebra. These municipalities represent almost 20% of the island’s 78 municipalities.

Other reasons highlighted by the PRPB are the high concentration of manufacturing industries in these municipalities, and the relative easy access to major infrastructure networks (such as highways, ports, roads, etc.).

According to BBVA publication, the Census data also shows pattern of labor mobility that coincides roughly with the historic patterns of urbanization on the Island. Urban centers that historically headed the main geographic regions are all net receivers of nonresidents workers. San Juan, Mayaguez, Aguadilla, Arecibo, and Humacao jointly receive a net influx of 147,954 workers from other municipalities. Each of these districts is a center of economic activity in its region.

Besides the districts, some small municipalities with high concentrations of particular economic activities are also net receivers of outside workers, such as Barceloneta, which has a high density of manufacturing firms, and Dorado and Fajardo, with lots of tourist facilities. Vieques and Culebras, two small island municipalities, also host more non-resident workers than they send to other localities.

An interesting point highlighted by the economic newsletter of BBVA is that Guaynabo does not run away with the title of a "bedroom municipality", despite its reputation in that respect. The Census data shows that 1.4 resident workers leave Guaynabo daily, for each worker entering from another municipality. In contrast, the municipality of Loiza showed that 5.5 outbound workers for each inbound non-resident. Meanwhile, Toa Alta is second, with 5.0 outbound for each inbound worker.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
For further information please contact

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback