Puerto Rico Is Losing Its Young and Affluent to the Mainland, Says Report
Puerto Rico lost more residents to the United States than it took in during the last decade, according to a report – and those who left during the recessionary years were likely to be younger, better educated, and more affluent.
From 2005 to 2009, the Caribbean island saw more than 300,000 of its residents leave for the mainland, according to Perfil del Migrante, or Migrant Profile, 2000-2009. By contrast, only 160,000 U.S. residents moved to Puerto Rico, a difference of 144,000 people and roughly 4 percent of the population.
The report, which analyzed data from the American and Puerto Rico Community Survey and U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, found that 2006 represented the largest exodus. Some 37,000 people, or about 1 percent of the island's residents, left for the U.S. that year.
Further, the study, authored by researchers Idania Rodríguez Ayuso and Nahir Rodríguez Hernández and Mario Marazzi Santiago, Puerto Rico Statistics Institute Director, says that the Puerto Rican emigrants were better educated and earned more money than their incoming counterparts.
In 2009, for instance, nearly 18,000 of those who left Puerto Rico had some college education or higher. Of those who left the U.S. for the island, by contrast, only nearly 8,000 have that same level of schooling, the report found.
There were differences in salaries, too, the study showed. Approximately 70 percent of migrants in Puerto Rico and the United States reported having some form of income. The median income of those who went to the mainland was between $10,000 and $13,000; the median salary for Puerto Rican immigrants was $8,000 to $9,000.
Finally, Puerto Rico, the study noted, was losing its young earners, too. In 2009, for example, more than 17,000 between the ages of 18 and 29 left the island; fewer than 7,000 people in those same age brackets immigrated to the island.
The report concluded that the loss of young, educated potential workers should be a "concern" to all.
"It is essential that Puerto Rico take measures to address this phenomenon and its consequences," the authors said.
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