Gross Domestic Product for Puerto Rico, 2020
Real gross domestic product (GDP) for Puerto Rico decreased 6.0 percent in 2020 after increasing 0.2 percent in 2019 (table 1.3), according to statistics released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The decrease in real GDP in 2020 primarily reflected a decrease in exports of goods and services (table 1.4). Personal consumption expenditures, government spending, and private fixed investment also decreased. These decreases were partly offset by an increase in private inventory investment. Imports of goods and services, which is a subtraction item in the calculation of GDP, declined.
The Puerto Rico economy was affected by the COVID–19 pandemic due to its effects on spending by consumers, visitors, businesses, and governments. The Puerto Rico government implemented various measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including curfew orders and lockdowns of non-essential activities. The U.S. government passed several laws to support and sustain businesses and individuals through the pandemic. Expenditures funded by the various federal grants and transfer payments are reflected in the GDP estimates. However, the full effects of the pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP statistics for Puerto Rico, because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.
Exports decreased 10.9 percent (table 3.3). Exports of goods decreased 8.3 percent while exports of services decreased 22.7 percent.
- The leading contributor to the decrease in exports of goods was pharmaceuticals and organic chemicals (table 3.4). Medical and scientific equipment and appliances—which is embedded within consumer goods and within capital goods including parts—was also a leading contributor to the decrease in exports of goods.
- The leading contributor to the decrease in exports of services was travel services, which includes goods and services purchased by visitors. Exports of travel services decreased 51.3 percent, largely reflecting decreases in cruise and air visitors due to the COVID–19 pandemic. Data published by the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics show the total number of inbound air passengers decreased 51.9 percent; cruise ship passengers reported by the Puerto Rico Ports Authority decreased 72.5 percent.
Personal consumption expenditures decreased 1.8 percent (table 2.3), primarily reflecting a decline in services (table 2.4). Food services and accommodations, "other"services (which includes services such as transportation, recreation, and education), and health care decreased, as nonessential businesses throughout the territory were subject to mandatory reductions in operations due to the COVID–19 pandemic.
Government spending decreased 3.2 percent (table 1.3). Spending decreased among all levels of government, reflecting pandemic-related reductions in operations and declines in disaster recovery activities associated with the 2017 hurricanes. Although central and municipal government spending in 2020 was supported by Coronavirus Relief Fund payments, prior-year spending was elevated due to expenditures funded by federal disaster grants.
Private fixed investment decreased 1.6 percent (table 4.2.3), primarily reflecting a decline in structures investment (table 4.2.4). Within structures, residential structures investment decreased 14.4 percent, reaching the lowest level of any year shown in BEA's estimates (table 4.2.2). Nonresidential structures investment decreased 5.2 percent but remained at elevated levels, reflecting ongoing projects to rebuild and improve telecommunications infrastructure and hotel and lodging establishments.
The estimates of GDP and its components include production owned by nonresidents, such as nonresident multinational enterprises. In Puerto Rico, subsidiaries of large nonresident multinational enterprises operate within the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry as well as within the medical device manufacturing and computer services industries. The box "Exported Intellectual Property-Intensive Products Are Key Drivers of Puerto Rico GDP" in the "Technical Note" provides an update of research provided in earlier releases that shows GDP excluding exports, imports, and private inventory investment associated with these intellectual property-intensive industries.
Estimates of GDP and its components for 2017–2019 that were released on September 27, 2021, have been revised to incorporate updates to source data.
Due to lags in the availability of key data sources used in the estimation of Puerto Rico GDP, the statistics presented today for 2020 are preliminary estimates. In addition to expected lags in the availability of data for private inventory investment and central government spending, other information typically published by the Puerto Rico government was not available in time for incorporation into this year's estimates of GDP. As additional source data become available, BEA will incorporate the information and will release updated estimates once a year.
For more information on updates to previously published estimates and data availability, see the "Technical Note."
Because Puerto Rico is not included in most of the major surveys used by BEA to estimate U.S. GDP, the support and assistance provided by the government of Puerto Rico has been critical to the successful production of these estimates. BEA appreciates the information provided by numerous organizations and individuals in Puerto Rico, including (in alphabetical order) the following:
- Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico, Office of Economic Studies
- Office of the Commissioner of Insurance of Puerto Rico
- Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce
- Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources
- Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury
- Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
- Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company
- Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics
- Puerto Rico Planning Board
- Puerto Rico Ports Authority
Next release: Summer 2023
Gross Domestic Product for Puerto Rico, 2021