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Census: 609,000 People Moved Stateside Since 2006

By on February 19, 2016

SAN JUAN – The Census Information Center (CIC) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Cayey reported Friday that net migration from Puerto Rico to the United States mainland has been of about 366,000 people during the 2006-2014 period.

Since the economic downturn began in 2006, by 2014, 609,000 people had moved stateside from Puerto Rico, while 243,000 moved to Puerto Rico.

Of those moving to the U.S. mainland, 15 percent (56,000) had a bachelor’s or higher degree, which could represent a significant brain drain. The data were obtained from the Puerto Rico Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

CIC Director José Caraballo Cueto said that in net terms, 56,000 professionals have left the island. Tirteen percent of the professionals was unemployed during the 2005-2009 period, a rate that rose to 17 percent between 2010 and 2014, when net migration of professionals increased an average of 16 percent (1,500 more professionals) over the 2005-2009 period.

“It is important to note that this is not an irreversible situation. Several studies indicate that this pattern is linked to the economic depression, so if the economy is reactivated, we may see a decrease in the brain drain and even return migration as happended in the ’70s,” the economist said.

However, since the economic downturn began in Puerto Rico, in overall terms, some 246,000 low-income people have left for the states.

According to the CIC, if those 246,000 people had not migrated, the poverty rate for Puerto Rico would have risen to 50 percent by 2014 instead of the 46 percent recorded.

“It is felt how migration has served as a safety valve for both the unemployed and poor people. However, contrary to the vast majority of Latin American countries, Puerto Rico does not receive a significant amount of remittances from migrants, so the short-term benefit of this migration has been to alleviate socioeconomic tensions in [Puerto Rico],” the CIC director said.

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