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Puerto Rico's population falls by 130,000 people in a year

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San Juan, Puerto Rico — The U.S. Census Bureau says Puerto Rico lost 130,000 inhabitants between July 2017 and 2018, a period that includes Hurricane Maria.

Officials said Wednesday that the U.S. territory's population now stands at 3.2 million people, a nearly 14 percent drop over the past decade and a nearly 4 percent reduction in just one year.

"Puerto Rico has seen a steady decline in population over the last decade," said Sandra Johnson, a demographer and statistician with the Census Bureau. "Hurricane Maria in September of 2017 further impacted that loss, both before and during the recovery period."

Puerto Rico already was losing people prior to the September 2017 blow from Maria. The island has been struggling through a 12-year recession, and the hurricane prompted tens of thousands of people to head for the mainland. The Category 4 storm destroyed the island's power grid and caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage.

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