Skip to content
Subscriber Only

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.