New Census Bureau estimates show that the Puerto Rican population jumped 700,000 or nearly 21 percent between 2000 and 2008.
Puerto Ricans do not have the highest birth rate among Hispanics. That distinction goes to Mexicans, who are the youngest Hispanic group. Cubans tend to be the oldest and Puerto Ricans tend to fall somewhere in the middle.
But Puerto Ricans are known for their circular migration. That is what we call the va y viene or come and go of people. It's not unusual for Puerto Ricans to migrate to the states for few years, then migrate back to the island—and maybe even return to the states at some point. It's all part of a historical pattern.
During good economic times, Puerto Ricans may migrate to the states to take advantage of a jumping job market. When things cool down, they may return to the island—or if they're on the island, stay put. All of this has been well documented by demographers, sociologists and others.
It's clear that the economy was jumping up until late 2008, when it fell off a financial cliff. The economy in Puerto Rico has fared even worse.
I'm inclined to say that the population increase reflects the good economic times between 2000 and 2008.
At a Glance:
Mexicans ... 20.9 million
Stateside Puerto Ricans ... 4.1 million (plus another 3.8 million in Puerto Rico)
Cubans ... 1.6 million
Salvadorans ... 1.5 million
Dominicans ... 1.2 million
Total Latino population ... 49.3 million