How Puerto Rico's Debt Levels Compare With Those of U.S. States

These charts help explain why Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla called the island's debt "not payable"

San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 8, 2015.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 8, 2015.

Photographer: Christopher Gregory/Bloomberg

Puerto Rico's debt levels have been rising to unsustainable levels, a stark contrast to U.S. states, which have been trying to reduce debt levels after the recession. What pushed Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla to say on June 29 that the island's debt is "not payable"? The charts below may help explain what went wrong.

Puerto Rico's debt per capita of $15,637 is more than 10 times higher than the average debt per capita of the 50 states, according to Moody's. The rating company does not include city, county, or agency debt in the calculations for U.S. states unless the state guarantees the debt. That differs from the totals for Puerto Rican debt, which include all the island's debt except that of Prepa, the island's public electric utility.

The island's public debt as a percent of 2013 personal income has reached 87.5 percent. That compares with the average of all 50 states of 3.1 percent.

The island's debt as a percent of its estimated fiscal year 2014 revenue was almost 27 percent, more than double that of Hawaii, the highest of the U.S. states, at 13 percent. The average for all 50 states was 5.5 percent, according to Moody's.

 

This story is based on Bloomberg Brief's interactive StoryChart on Puerto Rico's debt. Read more Bloomberg Brief coverage of Puerto Rico here.