15 November 2005

Sobering Territorial Statistics

The following are the Median Family Income statistics of the following U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Marianas Islands. See if you can match the number with the territory:

Median Family Income: $41,229; $28,553; $25,853; $18,357; $16,543

Now here are more statistics, in this case, the average dollar figure received per person in Federal Direct Payments:

FDP per person: $4,021; $3,287; $2,667; $1,445; $643

One more thing. These statistics are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States 2004-2005. You can download the proper section here.

Okay, let’s end the mystery. If you selected Puerto Rico as the highest Median Family Income territory, you were wrong. The highest Median Family Income belongs to Guam. The lowest MFI is Puerto Rico’s.

If, on the other hand, you chose Puerto Rico as the highest per person Federal Direct Payment recipient, you’d be right on target. Now it might be true that the scale of reliability goes “lies, damn lies and statistics,” but here We have a sobering comparison. Median Family Income is NOT an average: it is the point at which half the data points are higher and half are lower, in essence, the midpoint. That means that in each case, the MFI indicates the exact “center” of the populace in terms of family income: half the families make more money than the median, half make less.

So Puerto Rico pulls up the rear with $16,543, a paltry 40% of what the MFI is in Guam. Hell, it’s 10% lower than American Samoa’s, which most of Us can’t find on the world map in under a minute, but also 42% lower than the Virgin Islands which We have probably visited several times.

Now maybe—just maybe—there’s no direct correlation between the amount received in FDPs and the MFI. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Puerto Rico receives 625% more FDP dollars per person than a resident of the Marianas. But think about what it means that the Median Family Income of Puerto Rico, the point that can be considered to define the level of economic success, is so much lower here than in the comparing territories.

What are We doing to keep more than half of Our families at a lower standard of living than could be expected in American Samoa or Guam? And considering the high cost of living here, We could be looking at maybe 70-75% of Our families living below “Third World” standards. Is this the Puerto Rico We want?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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