Manuel Cidre, Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce in Puerto Rico, had positive news about economic development in Puerto Rico during 2023, according to a report from the News Journal.

The report went on to say that the Purchasing Management Index (PMI), a measure of the strength of the manufacturing sector, averaged 53.1 for the first 10 months of the year. The Statistical Institute of Puerto Rico says that the PMI was above 60 in both March and May. A score above 50 shows expansion over the previous month.

This report is not the only source of positive news about Puerto Rico’s economic position. Here are some more rays of hope:

  • The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), a measure of the level of optimism people feel about the future, reached a score of 85, and spending rose by 3.6% over the course of the year.
  • Tourism was a bright spot, with close to 20% increase in arrivals in 2023. In fact, 2022 and 2023 were both record-setting years for arrivals and for room tax revenue levels.
  • Dennis Freytes, in a comment on social media, informed us that “Puerto Rico’s GDP is around $113.434 Billion–better than 14 States. Growth: 3.4% (2023).”

Not all good news

The higher than previous GDP is of course good news. However, the real figure to use to understand the territory’s economy is its GNP. The preliminary official estimate for 2022 was $77,953.5 billion. The additional billions that make up the GDP was income merely attributed to Puerto Rico by manufacturers — mostly pharmaceuticals. This is Puerto Rico income only on paper, representing no economic activity in the territory. Mainland companies claim profits in Puerto Rico as a tax dodge.

About Those Taxes…


Labor force participation continues to be low, with only 42% of people of working age employed. On the other hand, the unemployment rate is at an historic low of 5.7%.

And, while the numbers of people leaving the Island have dipped (Puerto Rico lost 0.4%, or 14,422 people, in 2023 compared to the 1.3%, or 42,580 people who left in 2022), the birth rate has fallen and the death rate has increased. Still the population is shrinking more slowly.

Economic issues and status

Puerto Rico, like all present and past territories of the United States, is poor compared with the states. While some of the territories which later became states worried that they were not financially ready for statehood, the United States Congress has never denied a territory admission on the basis of its economy. After all, every territory that has become a state became much more prosperous after statehood. Puerto Rico will do the same.  As Ludivina Lopez wrote, “An easy fix to promote economic growth in Puerto Rico is for Congress to act on the democratic will of the Puerto Rican people and make the island the 51st state.”

Even so, the argument has been made in the case of Puerto Rico that the Island is simply too poor to be a state. Some variant of, “We can talk about statehood once they fix their economy” comes up frequently in social media and occasionally even in Congress. It would clearly be unjust to make special requirements for Puerto Rico’s admission that have never been asked of territories in the past.

Still, it’s good to see that the economy is having an upswing. The New York Fed summed up economic indicators for Puerto Rico in 2023: “The island has made great progress in resolving and rebounding from its extensive fiscal crisis.”



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for our newsletter!

We will send you news about Puerto Rico and the path to statehood. No spam, just useful information about this historic movement.