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Cost of living in SJ metro area 11.6% higher than U.S.

Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi

Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi

Living in the Metropolitan Statistical Area of San Juan-Carolina-Caguas is 11.6 percent higher than the average for other metropolitan areas of the United States mainland, the most recent data revealed by the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute confirmed.

The data also revealed that in the category of public services (utilities), the statistical area ranked fourth among the most expensive U.S. cities, surpassed only by Alaska and Hawaii.

Grocery items are 25.4 percent more expensive than the U.S. mainland average, while housing costs are 3.6 percent cheaper than the average of other metropolitan areas in the U.S. mainland. However, in the area of health care, the COLI holds as the most economical rate among all other participating cities.

Washington, D.C.-based Council for Community and Economic Research (known as C2ER) is now formally including Puerto Rico in the COLI, which compares the average cost of life for a professional or high managerial family in 300 different urban and rural areas.

The Statistics Institute has been providing the necessary data to C2ER since 2014, but it was not until this month that the stateside organization formally included Puerto Rico in the calculations.

Among other things, the COLI helps a person know how much it will cost to live in different parts of the U.S. mainland before moving, so they can adequately budget for the family before getting on the plane. It is also useful for companies that are considering moving to Puerto Rico to know the living costs its executives and workers will face when moving to Puerto Rico, to decide the compensation they need to provide their employees.

Puerto Rico’s inclusion in the COLI is also instrumental to increasing federal funds the island receives. Several federal programs use the cost of living in each place as a criterion to determine federal funding that is allocated to each location.

For example, in the case of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, they provide a higher rate of reimbursement to Alaska and Hawaii because it is recognized that these places have higher cost of living rates versus the rest of the United States. However, in the case of Puerto Rico a higher rate is not provided, because until now there were no reliable and comprehensive statistics on the cost of living.

“COLI has been instrumental in getting the U.S. Department of Agriculture to recently announce the allocation of an additional $25 million annually for the Puerto Rico Department of Education’s School Lunch Program,” said Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi.

“This not only benefits our students, their nutrition and education, but also injects millions of dollars into agriculture in Puerto Rico. Like this program, there are several others that could see adjustments in the years following Puerto Rico’s inclusion in the COLI,” he said.

To produce the COLI, the C2ER has more than 500 members from a wide range of organizations providing data. In the case of Puerto Rico, the Statistics Institute collects quarterly prices of 57 products in Puerto Rico, which it refers to C2ER for processing and dissemination.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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