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With poor economy driving away young people, Puerto Rico's median age hits 40

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - JUNE 30:  Valerio Ginairs (L) and Ricardo de la Cruz relax outside a bar a day after Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla gave a televised speech regarding the governments $72 billion debt on June 30, 2015 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The governor said in his speech that the people will have to sacrifice and share in the responsibilities for pulling the island out of debt.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - JUNE 30: Valerio Ginairs (L) and Ricardo de la Cruz relax outside a bar a day after Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla gave a televised speech regarding the governments $72 billion debt on June 30, 2015 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The governor said in his speech that the people will have to sacrifice and share in the responsibilities for pulling the island out of debt. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

The median age of Puerto Rico’s population has reached its highest level in the island’s history at 40 years old, and now tops that of the U.S. mainland by more than two years, officials said yesterday.

The U.S. territory is experiencing a flight of young professionals amid a decades-long economic crisis, which government officials say is further aggravated by the island’s shrinking and aging population. Puerto Rico is struggling to restructure $70 billion in public debt as it faces challenges, including a shriveling tax base.

The U.S. Census Bureau said Puerto Rico’s median age had reached 40 when compared to 37.8 for the U.S. mainland.

Officials said that statistics from 2015 also reveal that five municipalities in Puerto Rico’s southwest region have the highest percentage of people 64 years and older. In addition, the municipalities with the highest percentage of people between 15 and 64 were found mostly in the interior of Puerto Rico’s eastern region.

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