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Report reveals details of largest minority in Puerto Rico, Dominicans

A report by the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute, dubbed the “Dominican Population in Puerto Rico: Sociodemographic Characteristics and Contrasts with the Puerto Rican Population, 2015-2019,” found that Dominicans comprise 2% of the smaller island’s population and make up 59% of the non-Puerto Rican Hispanic origin population.

The report – whose main data source was the U.S. Census Bureau – examined the labor force participation, occupations, median income, poverty levels and geographic distribution of Dominicans in Puerto Rico, which is the largest minority in Puerto Rico.

The Dominican population in the period considered in the report was 57,294, exceeding the number of residents of Cuban, Mexican, Colombian or Spanish descent.

“When examining the Hispanic origins of the population, excluding those identified as Puerto Rican, it totals about 96,000 people, or 59% is comprised of the Dominican population, followed by the Cuban (13%), Mexican (9%), Colombian (4%) and Spanish (3%), being the five populations of non-Puerto Rican Hispanic origin that predominate in the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico,” reads the report.

Labor force
“The percentage of Dominicans who were out of work was much lower for men (26%) than for women (44%),” the report further adds. “In contrast to the Puerto Rican population, the percentage of people out of work among the Dominican population was much lower than in the Puerto Rican population.”

Among the most common occupations held by Dominicans living in Puerto Rico are as house cleaners (9.2%), construction workers (6%), janitors or building cleaners (4.4%), cooks (4%), and personal care assistants (3.6%).

The median income of the Dominican population showed a significant gender gap of about $4,011. Dominican women had a lower median income of $10,842 compared to Dominican men, whose median income was $14,853. Moreover, the report also indicates that more than half of the Dominican population residing in Puerto Rico (51%) lived below poverty levels.

The report also found a similar pattern of gender income disparity in the Puerto Rican population, with Puerto Rican women having a lower median income than Puerto Rican men, which was lower by approximately $3,099. 

Passenger movement and geographic distribution 
One aspect related to the interaction between the populations of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico is the volume of air passengers. Air transport data between the two locations revealed a cumulative volume of approximately 9 million passengers in each direction from 1990 to 2019. However, according to the report, the movement of passengers in both directions has decreased over time.

“For example, during the last three decades, the average number of passengers per decade from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico decreased from 335,000 (1990-1999) to 324,000 (2000-2009), and then to 214,000 in the most recent decade (2010-2019),” the report says.

In percentage terms, the average number of passengers in both directions over the past two decades fell by about 34%. The net movement of neighboring countries resulted, on average, in more people arriving from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico between 1990 and 1999, “contrary to what happened in the last two decades.”

Furthermore, there is a marked concentration in San Juan, in which about 35% of the Dominican population lives. As a result, out of every 10 Dominicans in Puerto Rico, three to four of them reside in the Puerto Rican capital. 

On the other hand, the areas comprising the municipalities of Carolina, Trujillo Alto, Loíza, Canóvanas and Bayamón-east showed percentages of between 5% and 14% of the total Dominican population residing in Puerto Rico. The northwest region (Mayagüez and to the north), have 1% to 4% of the Dominican population residing in those municipalities.

The Dominican-born population residing in Puerto Rico comprises 90% (51,774) of all Dominicans living in the smaller island. Those born in Puerto Rico make up 7% of the Dominican population, while those born in the state of New York and Cuba account for 0.6% and 0.3%, respectively.

“In other words, out of every 10 Dominicans living in Puerto Rico, nine were born in the Dominican Republic,” according to the report. “Among the Dominican population born in the Dominican Republic, about 41% had U.S. citizenship via naturalization, while the remaining 59% had not obtained citizenship.”

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.

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