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This study focuses on the demographic and socioeconomic changes occurring within the Puerto Rican population of the New York metropolitan area between 1970 and 2020. In 2020, there were about 1.19 million Puerto Rican-origin people living in the New York City metro area.


This report uses the American Community Survey PUMS (Public Use Microdata Series) data for all years released by the Census Bureau and reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa, ( See Public Use Microdata Series Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2020. Census tract data depicted in maps were derived from Steven Manson, Jonathan Schroeder, David Van Riper, Tracy Kugler, and Steven Ruggles. IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 15.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS.


The Puerto Rican population of New York City peaked in 1970 at close to 900,000 and gradually declined thereafter to about 666,000 in 2020. However, during the 1970s a process of suburbanization began in earnest as many second and third generation Puerto Ricans moved to urban areas of New Jersey, suburban counties in New York to the north of the City, Fairfield County Connecticut (mainly Bridgeport), and to Long Island. In 1970 only 17% of all Puerto Ricans living in the New York metropolitan area lived outside of the City. This increased to 44% in 2020. In 2020 nearly 21% of all Puerto Ricans in the region lived in New Jersey; 14% in the northern New York counties and Fairfield County, in Connecticut; and 9% on Long Island. Nativity, or place of birth, was an important factor in the changing socioeconomic transformations within the Puerto Rican community of the region. One important change was in educational atainment. In 1970 only 0.6% of the adult Puerto Rican population (25 years of age and older) had graduated college with a B.A. degree or higher. This steadily increased to nearly 18% in 2020. However, among U.S.-born Puerto Ricans 22% completed at least a university degree compared with only 11% of Puerto Rican adults born on the island. Puerto Rican women 25 years of age and older had consistently higher college graduation rates than Puerto Rican men. By 2020 nearly 21% of all Puerto Rican women had completed a B. A. degree or higher, compared with about 16% of Puerto Rican men.


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Citation information: Bergad, Laird W. (2022). The Puerto Rican Population of the New York Metropolitan Region, 1970-2020. New York, NY: Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.



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