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Puerto Ricans Leave N.Y. Report Tells Where They Go

The Puerto Rican population in the United States is continuing to grow and continuing to move out of their traditional enclaves, with the largest population increases in the same areas that beckon the U.S. population as whole, particularly the Sunbelt. The only area of the country that continues to lose Puerto Ricans is New York City.

While the first decade of the millennium witnessed an overall improvement in Puerto Rican residential separation from non-Hispanic whites, Puerto Ricans are still more likely to live among other Puerto Ricans.

These and other demographic changes based on updated 2010 decennial census data are analyzed in a new Centro research report, “Recent Trends in Puerto Rican Settlement and Segregation in the United States,” by Carlos Vargas-Ramos, a Centro research associate and author. You can download the complete report [Here]

Vargas-Ramos notes that “In a process already observed nearly 20 years ago, Puerto Ricans are moving in growing numbers into every state of the union by largely abandoning the largest urban centers for Sunbelt metropolitan areas or mid-size cities and exurbs in the Northeast.”  

Yet, he states, “New York is still by far the state with most Puerto Ricans in the United States, with more than one million, or 23 percent of all Puerto Ricans. Florida, however, follows closely behind with nearly 850,000, or 18 percent of all Puerto Ricans.” Moreover, this state far exceeds New York’s rate of growth. According to the census there was barely a 2 percent increase in New York between 2000 and 2010 to Florida’s 75 percent.

Vargas-Ramos also noted that the rate of growth of all Puerto Rican in the U.S. in the 2000s was higher than during the 1990s.

Still, of the top 10 counties in terms of Puerto Rican population, six are located in the Northeast: Bronx, Kings, New York and Queens in New York, Philadelphia, Pa. and Hartford, Conn.

On the other hand, Vargas-Ramos noted that of the top 10 counties with the largest growth in their Puerto Rican population, six were located in the south, including Lake, Flagler, Polk, Pasco and St. Lucie in Florida and Hoke in North Carolina. The four located in the Northeast were all in Pennsylvania – Union, Luzerne, Lackawanna and Carbon. All of these counties saw their Puerto Rican populations more than double or treble between 2000 and 2010.

Vargas-Ramos also analyzed the racial composition of the neighborhoods in which Puerto Ricans live, both new and old communities. He wrote that the first decade of the millennium witnessed an overall improvement in Puerto Rican residential separation from non-Hispanic whites. He found that fewer Puerto Ricans were living in neighborhoods that were almost entirely Puerto-Rican in 2010 than in 2000. In this sense, Puerto Ricans appeared to benefit from national trends that manifested lower residential segregation between ethno-racial groups, he wrote. But quoting findings of other researchers, he noted that some were touting the end of the most blatant form neighborhood segregation, and “while some trends were correctly if exultantly touted…” national metropolitan trends still show that non-Hispanic whites still live in neighborhoods that are not ethno-racially diverse.  

In regard to other Latino groups, Vargas-Ramos said, Puerto Ricans live in communities separate from whites and even from other Latinos. Puerto Ricans “are an integral component of the Latino population in the United States. Relative to other Hispanics,” he wrote, “it appears as if Puerto Ricans have made greater strides in their residential integration with non-Hispanic whites.”

While clear instances of extreme Puerto Rican residential segregation from non-Hispanic blacks exist, the experience is one of largely moderate or low separation. Moreover, the trend is towards relatively greater integration, with a slowly growing exposure between Puerto Ricans and non-Hispanic blacks.

You can discover more about these issues and other interesting and provocative information by obtaining a copy of the Vargas-Ramos report, “Recent Trends in Puerto Rican Settlement and Segregation in the United States” from Centro’s Research Data Center at