Median household income in Puerto Rico reached $21,058 in 2020, according to the latest 5-year estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This means that in 2020, half of Puerto Rican households earned more than $21,058 a year while the other half earned less than that. When compared to 2015 median household income increased by 8.8%. Meaning that on a percentage basis, median household income increased faster in the last 5 years (2015 – 2020) than in the previous 5 – year period (2010-2015), when median household income increased by 3.3% to reach 19,350 in 2015. When compared to 2010 median household income has increased by 12.1%
However, the increase in median household income that Puerto Rico experienced between 2015 and 2020 was significantly slower than U.S. average. Between 2015 and 2020 median household income in the U.S. increased by 25.2%, around two times faster than in Puerto Rico. This lag in income growth compared to the U.S. average could be attributed to the several challenges the Puerto Rican economy faced in the period. These include the ongoing fiscal crisis, hurricanes Irma and María, the January 2020 earthquakes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another noteworthy fact is that the percentage of households with earnings in Puerto Rico has decreased, while it has remained at about the same level in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau earnings are primarily derived from wages and salary from a job. While income represents the amount of money a household makes from earnings and other sources. In 2020 only 55.3% of Puerto Rican households had earnings, meaning that close to half of Puerto Rican households derived an income from wages and salaries. When compared to 2010 the proportion of Puerto Rican households with earnings decreased by 6.4 percentage points or 10.3% percent.
Additionally, the percentage of households receiving Food Stamps increased to 41.4% in 2020. This translates to a 3.3 percentage point or 8.7% increase when compared to 2015 and a 8.3 percentage point or 25.1% increase when compared to 2010. However, it is worth noting that the gross number of households benefiting from food Stamps has decreased when compared to 2015. On the other hand, the proportion of households receiving Food Stamps in the U.S. decreased by 1.8 percentage points or 13.6% when compared to 2015 and increased by 2.1% or 18.4% when compared to 2010. Meaning that over the last 5 years the percentage of households benefiting from Food Stamps grew more than in the U.S. over the past decade.
Overall, income has increased for the Puerto Rican household albeit at a slower rate than the in U.S. household. Despite this, a significant amount of household remains dependent on Food Stamps. But it’s worth noting that between 2015 and 2020 the gross number of households benefiting from Food Stamps in Puerto Rico decreased. This means that in the past 5 years, the amount of households dependent on food stamps did not increase, but they do represent a larger share of households. Additionally, there is a decreasing number of households are receiving an income from salaries and wages, and the amount of households receiving income from wages represented a smaller share of households in 2020 than in both 2015 and 2010. Overall, the data reflects that, even though Puerto Rican households earn more today than ever before, an increasing share of them rely on government aid and other income sources besides wages to survive.