Puerto Rico Seeing Large Emigrant Exodus

Outsourcing and emigration are two of the biggest impacts of the globalization of the world economy. The two basic rules of the globalization game are that companies move operations to areas where labor is cheap and people move to where the jobs are.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a classic example of globalization, as the country continues to see a large number of people moving away from the island, largely because of lack of economic opportunity.

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Economic malaise in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has long been the black sheep of the U.S. economy, its growth severely limited by a lack of infrastructure, a bloated bureaucracy and over-regulation. The situation was significantly worsened by the Great Recession and the island is still struggling to get back on reasonably firm financial footing.

Currently almost 13%, the unemployment rate in PR is double that of the U.S. mainland. Moreover, the economy continues to struggle under a sovereign debt load of over $70 billion. The good news is that some steps toward economic reforms have been made, and at least some of the country’s debt is likely to be restructured in the near future.

More Puerto Ricans in U.S. than in Puerto Rico

A recent report by Pew Hispanic Trends Project highlights that Puerto Ricans are the largest group of Hispanics migrating to mainland U.S. over the last three years. It also notes that that the number of people leaving the island for the U.S. is the most since the Great Migration of 1950s.

Census reports point out that between 2000 and 2010 the difference in number between those coming to the U.S. and those going back to PR was 192,000. However, from 2010 to 2013 the number was 144,000. Also of note, the total number of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. was 1.3 million in 2000, but that number shot up to 4.9 million by 2013 (PR has a current population of around 3.5 million).

Family ties also a major factor

Several analysts have noted that emigration from Puerto Rico is not just about lack of job opportunities, and that family ties play a big part in the decision as well. The Pew Hispanic Trends survey reports that 42% Puerto Ricans said they migrated to get better jobs, and 38% claimed that they have family-related reasons for moving.