Gross Domestic Product for Puerto Rico, 2021
Real gross domestic product (GDP) for Puerto Rico increased 4.0 percent in 2021 after decreasing 6.2 percent in 2020 (table 1.3), according to statistics released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The increase in real GDP in 2021 primarily reflected an increase in personal consumption expenditures (chart 1). Private fixed investment also increased. These increases were partly offset by decreases in exports, private inventory investment, and government spending. Imports, which is a subtraction item in the calculation of GDP, increased.
In 2021, the Puerto Rico economy was affected by the continued federal government response related to the COVID–19 pandemic. Central and municipal governments and consumers were supported by federal payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act of 2021; and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Expenditures funded by these payments are reflected in the GDP estimates. However, the full effects of the pandemic cannot be quantified in BEA statistics for Puerto Rico, because the impacts are generally embedded in the data sources used to estimate the components of GDP.
Real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased 11.2 percent (table 2.3). PCE was supported by government assistance payments distributed to households through the CARES Act, the CRRSA Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act. PCE goods increased 17.1 percent, and spending on services increased 11.6 percent. These increases were partly offset by “net foreign travel,” which equals foreign travel expenditures by Puerto Rico residents less expenditures in Puerto Rico by nonresidents. PCE goods and PCE services include spending in Puerto Rico by residents and nonresidents (e.g., tourists); nonresident spending is subtracted through the estimates of “net foreign travel” so the PCE aggregate reflects only spending by Puerto Rico residents.
- The increase in PCE goods reflected widespread growth across both nondurable and durable goods (table 2.3). According to statistics published by the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico (EDB), unit sales of motor vehicles increased 35.9 percent.
- Within PCE services, the leading contributor to the increase was food services and accommodations (table 2.4). According to statistics published by the EDB, total hotel (including “paradores”) registrations increased 103.7 percent.
- Net foreign travel subtracted from PCE growth (table 2.4) as nonresident spending on PCE goods and PCE services in Puerto Rico increased.
Real private fixed investment (PFI) increased 4.0 percent (table 4.2.3), reflecting increases in equipment investment and structures investment. Spending on PFI equipment increased 17.5 percent, and spending on PFI structures increased 25.5 percent. These increases were partly offset by a decrease in intellectual property products.
- The leading contributor to the increase in equipment was transportation equipment (table 4.2.4), including purchases of motor vehicles by businesses.
- The leading contributor to the increase in structures was nonresidential structures, reflecting ongoing projects to improve telecommunications infrastructure and hotel and lodging establishments.
Real exports decreased 1.9 percent (table 3.3), reflecting a decrease in exports of goods that was partly offset by an increase in exports of services. Exports of goods decreased 5.1 percent, while exports of services increased 15.4 percent.
- The leading contributor to the decrease in exports of goods was pharmaceuticals and organic chemicals (table 3.4). Data from U.S. Census Bureau U.S. Trade with Puerto Rico and U.S. Possessions reports and the USA Trade Online database indicate the value of pharmaceutical products and organic chemicals shipped from Puerto Rico was 5.5 percent lower in 2021 than in 2020.
- The leading contributor to the increase in exports of services was travel services, which includes goods and services purchased by nonresidents in Puerto Rico. Exports of travel services increased 125.1 percent, largely reflecting increases in expenditures by air visitors. According to statistics published by the EDB, total inbound air passengers increased 103.9 percent in 2021.
Real imports increased 2.5 percent (table 3.3), reflecting an increase in imports of goods.
- The leading contributor to the increase in imports of goods was transportation equipment (table 3.4). Imports of transportation equipment, which includes motor vehicles, increased 42.4 percent (table 3.3). Unit sales of motor vehicles from EDB showed substantial growth in 2021.
- Imports of pharmaceuticals and organic chemicals decreased 8.6 percent, partly offsetting growth in other categories of imports. Data from U.S. Census Bureau U.S. Trade with Puerto Rico and U.S. Possessions reports and the USA Trade Online database indicate the value of pharmaceutical products and organic chemicals shipped to Puerto Rico was 6.3 percent lower in 2021 than in 2020.
Real government spending decreased 0.4 percent (table 1.3), reflecting decreases in spending by the federal government and municipal governments. Federal government spending decreased 3.0 percent, reflecting declines in disaster recovery activities associated with the 2017 hurricanes. Municipal government spending decreased 3.5 percent, following continued declines in appropriations from the Commonwealth government. Central government spending increased 1.4 percent, supported by payments from the CARES Act, the CRRSA Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act.
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 showing GDP excluding exports, imports, and private inventory investment associated with these intellectual property-intensive industries.
Estimates of GDP and its components for 2018–2020 that were released on July 26, 2022, have been revised to incorporate updates to source data and methodologies.
Due to lags in the availability of key data sources used in the estimation of Puerto Rico GDP, the statistics presented today for 2021 are preliminary estimates. For example, currently available data sources for central government spending and private inventory investment do not cover all of calendar year 2021. 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.”
For more information on the data sources underlying these estimates, see Summary of Methodologies: Puerto Rico Gross Domestic Product.
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:
- Discover Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico’s destination marketing organization)
- 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 Treasury
- Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
- Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company
- Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics
- Puerto Rico Planning Board
- Puerto Rico Ports Authority
- Puerto Rico Tourism Company
Next release: Summer 2024
Gross Domestic Product for Puerto Rico, 2022