Puerto Rico:

Update of Selected Information Contained in a 1981 GAO Report

HRD-89-104FS: Published: Aug 9, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 9, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO updated certain information from an earlier GAO report on the political status of Puerto Rico, focusing on: (1) government finances; (2) socioeconomic conditions; (3) federal legislation and court cases pertaining to Puerto Rico; and (4) a bibliography of documents relating to Puerto Rican politics and other local self-determination processes.

GAO found that: (1) Puerto Rico's economy grew at an average annual rate of 5.2 percent from 1950 to 1979, declined at an average annual rate of about 1 percent for 1979 to 1983, and grew to an annual rate of 3.9 percent by 1988; (2) Puerto Rican per capita income was only 47 percent of that in the state with the lowest per capita income; (3) the Puerto Rican unemployment rate was 15.9 percent in 1988, while the highest state unemployment rate was 10.9 percent; (4) Puerto Rico funds most governmental functions and delegates only limited functions to its municipalities; (5) Puerto Rico operates a number of government corporations engaging in varied activities unparalleled in existing states; (6) Puerto Rico's per capita debt was comparable to states'; (7) many federal laws applied to Puerto Rico in the same manner as to states, but many income support programs provided lower benefits for Puerto Ricans; (8) federal income tax laws do not apply to Puerto Rico; and (9) recent court cases pertaining to Puerto Rico mostly treated it as a state, but the Supreme Court upheld a lower reimbursement rate for it under a public assistance program.

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