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Moving company data reflect Puerto Rican relocation slowdown

By on July 31, 2017

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the July 27 print edition of Caribbean Business.

SAN JUAN – The number of Puerto Rico residents moving to the U.S. have declined and perhaps even stabilized, judging by the decrease in requests for moving company services, according to data provided by several local moving companies, whose numbers are smaller compared with previous years.

The decline has been more evident over the summer because this is the high season for families to move to the United States since school classes are over.

Rosa del Monte General Manager Ricardo Martínez said that between 2016 and 2017, sales volume has remained within a range of 1% to 2%. That implies a change compared with 2014-2015, when a 10% yearly increase was seen in moves between Puerto Rico and the United States. Some 40% of those moves were to Central Florida.

By 2016, that growth dropped to 8% in terms of moves from Puerto Rico to the United States.

(File Photo)

Other industry sources—who did not want to reveal their identity because they were not authorized to provide information—agreed that moves from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland have decreased.

According to Martínez, his statistics also reveal an increase in the number of families relocating to the island, specifically from Central Florida.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed that most Puerto Ricans who were migrating to the United States were heading to the state of Florida, contrary to previous periods when people headed to the state of New York. That big movement to Florida was first seen in 2005, before the island’s long economic downturn began in 2006, which has now continued for more than a decade. In fact, the island’s population has dropped from 3.8 million in 2010 to 3.4 million today.

Another interesting fact, explained demographer Emma Bruno, is that as part of the 2015 Migrant Profile conducted by the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute, about 40% of Puerto Ricans who are in the U.S. live below the poverty line.

She said this could explain the reason we are seeing an increased number of families returning to Puerto Rico. However, she pointed out that those who return to the island are not necessarily those who had left most recently.

“Puerto Rico is at a point in which many things are happening in terms of population dynamics. It’s interesting because we’ve seen that things have changed a lot, year after year,” Bruno said.

She pointed out that the data shows that although prior migration consisted mostly of single people, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of complete families moving from the island.

Industrial migration grows

On the other hand, industrial moves have evidenced an increase in terms of heavy equipment shipping, as well as specialized cargo, possibly due to companies closing operations on the island. Rosa del Monte’s general manager said that in his company, that increase has been almost 20% this year. Most are companies that have offices in Puerto Rico and relocate to other places such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela.

“We’ve had shipments that are returning to their countries since sites close or [they] relocate their operation centers,” Martínez said.

Other industry sources said that while in 2016 some 35% of the moves in this sector headed to the U.S. and 65% were in Puerto Rico, in 2017 moves to the U.S. increased to 68% and only 32% were within the island. This change could be a result of the consolidations many companies are undergoing or that businesses are closing down.

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