Agriculture, forestry, and fishing account for a relatively tiny amount of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. Sugarcane production, supported by low-paying, seasonal labour, is now relatively insignificant, and Puerto Rico imports much of the molasses required for its important rum industry. Coffee, tobacco, and milk remain traditional farm products, but several farms are dedicated to specialized products for local and export markets, such as pineapples, mangoes, melons, and other tropical fruits, as well as beef, pork, poultry, and eggs.
Bamboo and tropical hardwoods support a small furniture industry. For decades the island’s commercial tuna industry was part of a large-scale international operation that brought its catch from distant fisheries to Puerto Rico, where fish were processed for export; however, by the early 21st century most of the canneries had been closed and their operations relocated to countries with lower hourly wages. The waters surrounding Puerto Rico are generally renowned for sport fishing but cannot support commercial efforts.
Manufacturing accounts for approximately two-fifths of the GDP and about one-seventh of the labour force. Goods manufactured or assembled in Puerto Rico primarily use imported industrial components. U.S. firms dominate the manufacturing sector, largely through high-technology industries producing pharmaceuticals, electronics, chemicals, and medical equipment. Apparel, processed foods, and soft drinks are also important. Several smaller factories are owned by local entrepreneurs. Global competition since the late 20th century has slowed the island’s manufacturing sector, which is no longer as competitive in labour-intensive industries because U.S. minimum wages also apply there. The island’s average hourly wages are about sixfold higher than those of Mexico, from which manufactured goods have also entered the U.S. market duty-free since the mid-1990s.
Services, including trade, finance, tourism, and government work, have become the dominant and most dynamic force in Puerto Rico’s economy, accounting for about half of the GDP and as much as three-fourths of employment on the island. Government functions produce about one-tenth of the island’s GDP and employ roughly one-fifth of the workforce..