Puerto Rican American
|Regions with significant populations|
|throughout the Northeast, Florida, Chicago Metro Area, and Cleveland Metro Area, with growing populations in other Southeastern States|
|Spanish and English|
|Protestant, Roman Catholic|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Criollos, Mestizos, Mulattos, Taíno, African people, Europeans|
A Stateside Puerto Rican or Puerto Rican American (Spanish: Puertorriqueño estadounidense) is an American born in either Puerto Rico or the United States that is of full or partial Puerto Rican origin and has lived a significant part of their lives in one of the states of the United States or the District of Columbia.
Since 1898, Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated territory of the United States and is officially named the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico since 1952, when its constitution was adopted. The residents of the islands were given U.S. citizenship in 1917 through the Jones-Shafroth Act.
Most Puerto Ricans descend from a combination of White Europeans (especially Spanish), the indigenous Taino peoples, and Africans, with later smaller waves of immigrants from Latin America, a small number of Asians (mostly Chinese), and non-Hispanic people from the United States.
At 9% of the Latino population in the United States, Puerto Ricans are the second largest Hispanic group nationwide, and comprise 1.5% of the entire population of the United States. Although, the 2010 Census puts the number of Puerto Ricans living in the United States at 4.6 million, recent estimates show the Puerto Rican population is now over 5 million, as of 2012.
Despite new demographic trends, New York City continues to be home to the largest Puerto Rican community in the United States, with Philadelphia having the second largest Puerto Rican community. The portmanteau "Nuyorican" refers to Puerto Ricans and their descendants in and around New York. A large portion of the Puerto Rican population in the United States reside in the Northeastern states and Florida, though there are significant Puerto Rican populations in the Chicago metropolitan area and other areas in Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Texas, and California, among others.
- 1 Identity
- 2 Migration history
- 3 Demographics of Stateside Puerto Ricans
- 4 Migration trends
- 5 Socioeconomics
- 6 Political participation
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
Puerto Ricans have been migrating to the United States since the 19th century and have a long history of collective social advocacy for their political and social rights and preserving their cultural heritage. In New York City, which has the largest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the United States, they began running for elective office in the 1920s, electing one of their own to the New York State Assembly for the first time in 1937.
Important Puerto Rican institutions have emerged from this long history. Aspira was established in New York City in 1961 and is now one of the largest national Latino nonprofit organizations in the United States. There is also the National Puerto Rican Coalition in Washington, DC, the National Puerto Rican Forum, the Puerto Rican Family Institute, Boricua College, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies of the City University of New York at Hunter College, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, and the New York League of Puerto Rican Women, Inc., among others.
The government of Puerto Rico has a long history of involvement with the stateside Puerto Rican community. In July 1930, Puerto Rico's Department of Labor established an employment service in New York City. The Migration Division (known as the "Commonwealth Office"), also part of Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor, was created in 1948, and by the end of the 1950s, was operating in 115 cities and towns stateside.
Since 1898, Puerto Rico has been under the control of the United States, fueling migratory patterns between the mainland and the island. Even during Spanish rule, Puerto Ricans settled in the US. However, it was not until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 that a significant influx of Puerto Rican workers to the US began. With its 1898 victory, the United States acquired Puerto Rico from Spain and has retained sovereignty since. The 1917 Jones–Shafroth Act made all Puerto Ricans US citizens, freeing them from immigration barriers. The massive migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States was largest in the early and late 20th century.
U.S political and economic interventions in Puerto Rico created the conditions for emigration, "by concentrating wealth in the hands of US corporations and displacing workers." Policymakers promoted "colonization plans and contract labour programs to reduce the population. US employers, often with government support, recruited Puerto Ricans as a source of low-wage labour to the United States and other destinations."
Puerto Ricans migrated in search of higher-wage jobs, first to New York City, and later to other cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston. However, in more recent years, there has been a resurgence in immigration from Puerto Rico to New York and New Jersey, with an apparently multifactorial allure to Puerto Ricans, primarily for economic and cultural considerations.
New York City
Between the 1950s and the 1980s, large numbers of Puerto Ricans migrated to New York, especially to the Bronx, and the Spanish Harlem and Loisaida neighborhoods of Manhattan. Labor recruitment was the basis of this particular community. In 1960, the number of stateside Puerto Ricans living in New York City as a whole was 88%, with most (69%) living in East Harlem. They helped others settle, find work, and build communities by relying on social networks containing friends and family.
For a long time, Spanish Harlem (East Harlem) and Loisaida (Lower East Side) were the two major Puerto Rican communities in the city, but during the 1960s and 1970s predominately Puerto Rican neighborhoods started to spring up in the Bronx because of its proximity to East Harlem and in Brooklyn because of its proximity to the Lower East Side. There are significant Puerto Rican communities in all five boroughs.
Philippe Bourgois, an anthropologist who has studied Puerto Ricans in the inner city, suggests that "the Puerto Rican community has fallen victim to poverty through social marginalization due to the transformation of New York into a global city." The Puerto Rican population in East Harlem and New York City as a whole remains the poorest among all migrant groups in US cities. As of 1973, about "46.2% of the Puerto Rican migrants in East Harlem were living below the federal poverty line."
The struggle for legal work and affordable housing remains fairly low and the implementation of favorable public policy fairly inconsistent. New York City's Puerto Rican community contributed to the creation of hip hop music, and to many forms of Latin music including Salsa and Freestyle. Puerto Ricans in New York created their own cultural movement, and cultural institutions such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
New York City also became the mecca for freestyle music in the 1980s, of which Puerto Rican singer-songwriters represented an integral component. Puerto Rican influence in popular music continues in the 21st century, encompassing major artists such as Jennifer Lopez.
Puerto Ricans first arrived in the early part of the 20th century from more affluent families to study at colleges or universities. In the 1930's there was an enclave around 35th and Michigan. In the 1950's two small barrios emerged known as la Clark and La Madison just North and West of Downtown, near hotel jobs and then where the factories once stood. These communities were displaced by the city as part of their slum clearance. In 1968 a turnt around gang, the Young Lords mounted protests and demonstrations and occupied several buildings of institutions demanding that they invest in low income housing.
Demographics of Stateside Puerto Ricans
In 1950, about a quarter of a million Puerto Rican natives lived "stateside," or in the United States. In March 2012 that figure had risen to about 1.5 million. That is, slightly less than a third of the 5 million Puerto Ricans living stateside were born on the island. Puerto Ricans are also the second-largest Hispanic group in the USA after those of Mexican descent.
Population by state
Relative to the population of each state
The Puerto Rican population by state, showing the percentage of the state's population that identifies itself as Puerto Rican relative to the state/territory population as a whole is shown in the following table.
|State/Territory|| Puerto Rican-American
Population (2010 Census)
|District of Columbia||3,129||0.5|
The states with the highest net flow of Puerto Ricans from the island relocating there include Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. Between 2000 and 2010, these states were the major destinations for Puerto Ricans migrating from the island to the fifty states. New York, remains a major destination for Puerto Rican migrants, though only a third of recent Puerto Rican arrivals went to New York.
Although, Puerto Ricans constitute over 9 percent of Hispanics in the nation, there are some states where Puerto Ricans make up over half of the Hispanic population, including Connecticut where 57 percent of the state's Hispanics are of Puerto Rican descent and Pennsylvania where Puerto Ricans make up 53 percent of the Hispanics. Other states where Puerto Ricans make up a remarkably large portion of the Hispanic community include Massachusetts, where they make up 40 percent of all Hispanics, Rhode Island at 39 percent, New York at 34 percent, New Jersey at 33 percent, Delaware at 33 percent, Ohio at 27 percent, and Florida at 21 percent of all Hispanics in that state. The U.S. States where Puerto Ricans were the largest Hispanic group were New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.
Relative to the Puerto Rican population nationwide
Puerto Rican population by state, showing the percentage of Puerto Rican residents in each state relative to the Puerto Rican population in the United States as a whole.
|State/Territory|| Puerto Rican-American
Population (2010 Census)
Even with such movement of Puerto Ricans from traditional to non-traditional states, the Northeast continues to dominate in both concentration and population.
The largest populations of Puerto Ricans are situated in the following metropolitan areas (Source: Census 2010):
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT MSA - 1,177,430
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA - 269,781
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA - 238,866
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA - 207,727
- Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA - 188,502
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA - 143,886
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA - 115,087
- Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT MSA - 102,911
- Springfield, MA MSA - 87,798
- New Haven-Milford, CT MSA - 77,578
Communities with largest Puerto Rican population
- New York City: 723,621 Puerto Rican residents, as of 2010; compared to 789,172 in 2000, decrease of 65,551; representing 8.9% of the city's total population and 32% of the city's Hispanic population, are the city's largest Hispanic group.
- Philadelphia: 121,643 Puerto Rican residents, as of 2010; compared to 91,527 in 2000, increase of 30,116; representing 8.0% of the city's total population and 68% of the city's Hispanic population, are the city's largest Hispanic group.
- Chicago: 102,703 Puerto Rican residents, as of 2010; compared to 113,055 in 2000, decrease of 10,352; representing 3.8% of the city's total population and 15% of the city's Hispanic population, are the city's second largest Hispanic group.
The top 25 US communities with the highest populations of Puerto Ricans (Source: Census 2010)
- New York, NY - 723,621
- Philadelphia, PA - 121,643
- Chicago, IL - 102,703
- Springfield, MA - 50,798
- Hartford, CT - 41,995
- Newark, NJ - 35,993
- Bridgeport, CT - 31,881
- Orlando, FL - 31,201
- Boston, MA - 30,506
- Allentown, PA - 29,640
- Cleveland, OH - 29,286
- Reading, PA - 28,160
- Rochester, NY - 27,734
- Jersey City, NJ - 25,677
- Waterbury, CT - 24,947
- Milwaukee, WI - 24,672
- Tampa, FL - 24,057
- Camden, NJ - 23,759
- Worcester, MA - 23,074
- Buffalo, NY - 22,076
- New Britain, CT - 21,914
- Jacksonville, FL - 21,128
- Paterson, NJ - 21,015
- New Haven, CT - 20,505
- Yonkers, NY - 19,875
Communities with high percentages of Puerto Ricans
The top 25 US communities with the highest percentages of Puerto Ricans as a percent of total population (Source: Census 2010)
- Holyoke, MA - 44.70%
- Buenaventura Lakes, FL - 44.55%
- Azalea Park, FL - 36.50%
- Poinciana, FL - 35.82%
- Meadow Woods, FL - 35.11%
- Hartford, CT - 33.66%
- Springfield, MA - 33.19%
- Kissimmee, FL - 33.06%
- Reading, PA - 31.97%
- Camden, NJ - 30.72%
- New Britain, CT - 29.93%
- Lancaster, PA - 29.23%
- Vineland, NJ - 26.74%
- Union Park, FL - 25.81%
- Allentown, PA - 25.11%
- Windham, CT - 23.99%
- Lebanon, PA - 23.87%
- Perth Amboy, NJ - 23.79%
- Southbridge, MA - 23.08%
- Amsterdam, NY - 22.80%
- Harlem Heights, FL - 22.63%
- Waterbury, CT - 22.60%
- Lawrence, MA - 22.20%
- Dunkirk, NY - 22.14%
- Bridgeport, CT - 22.10%
- Sky Lake, FL - 22.09%
The 10 large cities (over 200,000 in population) with the highest percentages of Puerto Rican residents include:
- Rochester, New York: 13.2 percent
- Orlando, Florida: 13.1 percent
- Newark, New Jersey: 13.0 percent
- Jersey City, New Jersey: 10.4 percent
- New York City, New York: 8.9 percent
- Buffalo, New York: 8.4 percent
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 8.0 percent
- Cleveland, Ohio: 7.4 percent
- Tampa, Florida: 7.2 percent
- Boston, Massachusetts: 4.9 percent
New York was the only state to register a decrease in its Puerto Rican population during this time period (a phenomenon limited to the three biggest counties in New York City). This is a good example of how complex Puerto Rican demographics have become. While overall there was a significant drop citywide in the 1990s, there was also significant growth in two of its five boroughs (or counties). In addition, despite this decline, New York City remains a major hub for migration from Puerto Rico and within the United States.
Four other major cities experienced a decrease in Puerto Rican residents from 1990-2000:
- Chicago, Illinois: -6,811 (a 2 percent drop)
- Jersey City, New Jersey: -13,567 (4 percent)
- Newark, New Jersey: -11,895, (5 percent)
- Paterson, New Jersey: -3,567 (13 percent)
The reasons for and impact of these declines have yet to be fully researched. Especially in the New York case, this has been the subject of much speculation but little serious analysis to date. But it is quite clear that most of the migration was to Central Florida. Between New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago, the cities with the three largest Puerto Rican populations, Philadelphia is the only one that actually seen an increase, while the other two have seen decreases. This is probably due to Philadelphia's proximity to New York City, and its cheaper cost of living.
The five places with the largest 1990-2000 declines were:
- Olympia Heights, Florida: -72.4 percent
- Marina, California: -59.0 percent
- Seaside, California: -55.1 percent
- Baldwin Park, California: -48.4 percent
- Pompano Beach Highlands, Florida: -43.8 percent
Like other groups, the theme of "dispersal" has had a long history with the stateside Puerto Rican community. More recent demographic developments appear at first blush as if the stateside Puerto Rican population has been dispersing in greater numbers. Duany had described this process as a “reconfiguration” and termed it the “nationalizing” of this community throughout the United States.
New York City was the center of the stateside Puerto Rican community for most of the 20th century. However, it is not clear whether these settlement changes can be characterized as simple population dispersal. The fact that remains is that Puerto Rican population settlements today are less concentrated than they were in places like New York City, Chicago and a number of cities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
Residential segregation is a cause of stateside Puerto Rican population concentration. While blacks are the most residentially segregated group in the United States, stateside Puerto Ricans are the most segregated among US Latinos.[full citation needed]
- Bridgeport, Connecticut (score of 73)
- Hartford, Connecticut (70)
- New York City (69)
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (69)
- Newark, New Jersey (69)
- Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, Ohio (68)
Stateside Puerto Ricans also find themselves concentrated in a third interesting way — they are disproportionately clustered in what has been called the "Boston-New York-Washington Corridor" along the East Coast. This area, coined a "megalopolis" by geographer Jean Gottman in 1956, is the largest and most affluent urban corridor in the world, being described as a "node of wealth ... [an] area where the pulse of the national economy beats loudest and the seats of power are well established." With major world class universities clustered in Boston and stretching throughout this corridor, the economic and media power and international power politics in New York City, and the seat of the federal government in Washington, DC, this is a major global power center.
These shifts in the relative sizes of Latino populations have also changed the role of the stateside Puerto Rican community. Thus, many long-established Puerto Rican institutions have had to revise their missions (and, in some cases, change their names) to provide services and advocacy on behalf of non-Puerto Rican Latinos. Some have seen this as a process that has made the stateside Puerto Rican community nearly invisible as immigration and a broader Latino agenda seem to have taken center stage, while others view this is a great opportunity for stateside Puerto Ricans to increase their influence and leadership role in a larger Latino world.
The stateside Puerto Rican community has usually been characterized as being largely poor and part of the urban underclass in the United States. Studies and reports over the last fifty years or so have documented the high poverty status of this community. However, the picture at the start of the 21st century also reveals significant socioeconomic progress and a community with a growing economic clout.
The Latino market and remittances to Puerto Rico
The combined income for stateside Puerto Ricans is a significant share of the large and growing Latino market in the United States and has been attracting increased attention from the media and the corporate sector. In the last decade or so, major corporations have discovered the so-called "urban markets" of blacks and Latinos that had been neglected for so long. This has spawned a cottage industry of marketing firms, consultants and publications that specialize in the Latino market.
One important question this raises is the degree to which stateside Puerto Ricans contribute economically to Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Planning Board estimated that remittances totaled $66 million in 1963.
The full extent of the stateside Puerto Rican community’s contributions to the economy of Puerto Rico is not known, but it is clearly significant. The role of remittances and investments by Latino immigrants to their home countries has reached a level that it has received much attention in the last few years, as countries like Mexico develop strategies to better leverage these large sums of money from their diasporas in their economic development planning.
The income disparity between the stateside community and those living on the island is not as great as those of other Latin-American countries, and the direct connection between second-generation Puerto Ricans and their relatives is not as conducive to direct monetary support. Many Puerto Ricans still living in Puerto Rico also remit to family members who are living stateside.
The average income in 2002 of stateside Puerto Rican men was $36,572, while women earned an average $30,613, 83.7 percent that of the men. Compared to all Latino groups, whites, and Asians, stateside Puerto Rican women came closer to achieving parity in income to the men of their own racial-ethnic group. In addition, stateside Puerto Rican women had incomes that were 82.3 percent that of white women, while stateside Puerto Rican men had incomes that were only 64.0 percent that of white men.
Stateside Puerto Rican women were closer to income parity with white women than were women who were Dominicans (58.7 percent), Central and South Americans (68.4 percent), but they were below Cubans (86.2 percent), "other Hispanics" (87.2 percent), blacks (83.7 percent), and Asians (107.7 percent).
Stateside Puerto Rican men were in a weaker position in comparison with men from other racial-ethnic groups. They were closer to income parity to white men than men who were Dominicans (62.3 percent), and Central and South Americans (58.3 percent). Although very close to income parity with blacks (65.5 percent), stateside Puerto Rican men fell below Mexicans (68.3 percent), Cubans (75.9 percent), other Hispanics (75.1 percent), and Asians (100.7 percent).
Stateside Puerto Ricans, along with other US Latinos, have experienced the long-term problem of a high school dropout rate that has resulted in relatively low educational attainment.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, while in Puerto Rico more than 20% of Hispanics have a bachelor's degree, only 16% of stateside Puerto Ricans did as of March 2012.
The Puerto Rican community has organized itself to represent its interests in stateside political institutions for close to a century. In New York City, Puerto Ricans first began running for public office in the 1920s. In 1937, they elected their first government representative, Oscar Garcia Rivera, to the New York State Assembly. In Massachusetts, Puerto-Rican Nelson Merced became the first Hispanic elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and the first Hispanic to hold statewide office in the commonwealth.
There are four Puerto Rican members of the United States House of Representatives: Democrats Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, José Enrique Serrano of New York, and Nydia Velázquez of New York, and Republican Raúl Labrador of Idaho, complementing the one Resident Commissioner elected to that body from Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans have also been elected as mayors in three major cities: Miami, Hartford, and Camden.
There are various ways in which stateside Puerto Ricans have exercised their influence. These include protests, campaign contributions and lobbying, and voting. Compared to the United States, voter participation by Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico is very large. However, many see a paradox in that this high level of voting is not echoed stateside. There, Puerto Ricans have had persistently low voter registration and turnout rates, despite the relative success they have had in electing their own to significant public offices throughout the United States.
To address this problem, the government of Puerto Rico has, since the late 1980s, launched two major voter registration campaigns to increase the level of voter participation of stateside Puerto Rican. While Puerto Ricans have traditionally been concentrated in the Northeast, coordinated Latino voter registration organizations such as the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (based in the Midwest), have not concentrated in this region and have focused on the Mexican-American voter. The government of Puerto Rico has sought to fill this vacuum to insure that stateside Puerto Rican interests are well represented in the electoral process, recognizing that the increased political influence of stateside Puerto Ricans also benefits the island.
This low level of electoral participation is in sharp contrast with voting levels in Puerto Rico, which are much higher than that not only of this community, but also the United States as a whole.
The reasons for the differences in Puerto Rican voter participation have been an object of much discussion, but relatively little scholarly research.
When the relationship of various factors to the turnout rates of stateside Puerto Ricans in 2000 is examined, socioeconomic status emerges as a clear factor. For example, according to the Census:
- Income: the turnout rate for those with incomes less than $10,000 was 37.7 percent, while for those earning $75,000 and above, it was 76.7 percent.
- Employment: 36.5 percent of the unemployed voted, versus 51.2 percent for the employed. The rate for those outside of the labor force was 50.6 percent, probably reflecting the disproportionate role of the elderly, who generally have higher turnout rates.
- Union membership: for union members it was 51.3 percent, while for nonunion members it was 42.6 percent.
- Housing: for homeowners it was 64.0 percent, while it was 41.8 percent for renters.
There were a number of other socio-demographic characteristics where turnout differences also existed, such as:
- Age: the average age of voters was 45.3 years, compared to 38.5 years for eligible nonvoters.
- Education: those without a high school diploma had a turnout rate of 42.5 percent, while for those with a graduate degree, it was 81.0 percent.
- Birthplace: for those born stateside it was 48.9 percent, compared to 52.0 percent for those born in Puerto Rico.
- Marriage status: for those who were married it was 62.0 percent, while those who were never married managed 33.0 percent.
- Military service: for those who ever served in the US military, the turnout rate was 72.1 percent, compared to 48.6 percent for those who never served.
- Teatro Puerto Rico
- Young Lords
- Puerto Rican people
- List of Puerto Ricans
- History of Puerto Rico
- Demographics of Puerto Rico
- List of Stateside Puerto Ricans
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