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Migration probabilities increase among those who are between 25 to 29 years old, have never married, do not own property and have  limited income, although not to the point of living below the poverty line.

At least, those are the dominant characteristics among the population that, in 2016, moved out of Puerto Rico, according to the most recent Migrant Profile.

Most migrants are men, and some cities in the states of Florida, New York and Texas seem to be among their destination preferences. In theory, about a fifth of those who left will return, according to the return rate reported on the migration to Puerto Rico.

 The most recent data on the Puerto Rican migration indicate that, in 2016, about 89,000 people left Puerto Rico, a figure that shows the continuity of increasing migration rates. However, some preferences of migrants seem to be changing, such as the destinations they prefer or the academic background of those who are leaving.

Specific data on migration in 2017 might be ready by December. However, some indicators, such as airport passenger movement show significant migration trends. For example, that last year 281,000 more people left the island than those who arrived. Most of this movement of people occurred during the months that followed Hurricane Maria.

 "The recent migration wave -during the last decade- exceeds the 1950-60 Great Migration, which has great impact on  social and economic levels," says the Migrant Profile 2016, a document conducted by the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute and published last week.

On the other hand, the data of passenger movement during the first months of 2018 seem to show the return of many of the Puerto Ricans who have left the island after the cyclone, said demographer Judith Rodríguez.

Specifically, during January, 58,202 more people arrived than those who left Puerto Rico. The same happened in February with a positive net movement of 10,698 passengers, and 1,510 in March.

This change, however, is estimated to be temporary and that migration levels will return to a point near that experienced prior to last September, when hurricanes Irma and María hit Puerto Rico.

The city with the most Puerto Ricans 

 New York City metropolitan area is clearly the city with the most Puerto Ricans. According to the data of the American Community Survey (ACS) of the Census Bureau, 1.2 million Puerto Ricans live there.

The city that follows New York in number of Puerto Ricans is the metropolitan area of Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford in Florida. There, the Puerto Rican population is 318.101, according to the Census five-year estimates.

There is a large number of Puerto Ricans in New York is in spite of the fact that many have left this city in recent years. It is estimated that New York counties such as Bronx, New York, Queens and Suffolk, which are part of the metropolitan area, lost 32,404 Puerto Ricans between 2010 and 2016. A good part of this population moved to other cities in the mainland.

The city with most migrants

 Although it is believed that most Puerto Ricans who have moved out of Puerto Rico arrive in Orlando, Florida, data from the Community Survey of the Census Bureau establish that Hillsborough County, also in Florida, is the one that most Puerto Ricans has hosted since 2010.

The city of Tampa leads the county, where 163,435 Puerto Ricans lived in 2016. 15 percent (25,136) of the Puerto Ricans arrived there after 2010.

The second city with the largest Puerto Rican population is Orlando, Florida. The third is Hartford, the capital of Connecticut. 113,050 Puerto Ricans live in this area. One out of five Puerto Ricans arrived in this area during the last eight years, according to the Census Bureau annual surveys.

New destinations 

Currently, about 30 percent of Puerto Rican migrants choose a city in Florida, mainly in the central area. However, the states of Texas and New York are gaining more popularity among Puerto Ricans.

The Big Apple has always been seen as an option for Puerto Ricans, because it is one of the areas with the closest cultural and family ties with Puerto Ricans since the migration waves in the early twentieth century. Until 2012, the city received approximately 8,200 Puerto Ricans annually, a figure that was reduced to 5,000 between 2013 and 2015. The latest data, from 2016, suggests that the city once again emerged as one of the three favorite destinations for about 7,400 Puerto Ricans.

On the other hand, Texas received some 9,246 Puerto Ricans in 2016, a number that keeps rising since the previous year. The data from the 2016 Census Bureau suggest that half (46 percent) of those who migrated to Texas chose the cities of Houston (18 percent), San Antonio (16 percent) and Fort Worth (12 percent).

Where do those who return come from?

Most of those who return to Puerto Rico come from the states with the largest number of Puerto Ricans such as Florida and New York. However, the proportion of those who return has some peculiarities. For example, the number of people who come to Puerto Rico from the states of Massachusetts, Louisiana and Washington represent more than half of those who migrated to these jurisdictions. That means, in theory, that more than half of the people who go to those states come back. The case of the state of Washington is the most dramatic. Some 368 people moved to Puerto Rico from that jurisdiction. That nimber represents the  77 percent of those who moved there that same year (480), according to the Migrant Profile 2016, published last week by the Statistics Institute.

In fact, that report states that 66 percent (13,989) of the people who moved to Puerto Rico in 2016 (21,196) were Puerto Ricans returning to the island.

Higher Education

 48 percent of the Puerto Ricans living in the metropolitan area of Washington D.C. have, at least, graduated from high school, according to data from the Census Bureau. That figure would increase to 78 percent if you add people who had, at least, some type of university education, although they have not completed an academic degree. There are about 27,600 Puerto Ricans with some type of higher education.

That figure, by far, implies the highest rate in the formal education range for the Puerto Rican population in the United States. Other cities have many Puerto Ricans with at least a bachelor's degree in their formal education, but not in the same proportion.

The closest to that number is Miami, with 26 percent of Puerto Ricans with at least a baccalaureate. In terms of professionals, in New York, some 128,288 Puerto Ricans have at least completed a degree. That, however, represents 17 percent of the Puerto Rican population there.

 The best household income

 The US capital, in addition to being the place where the Puerto Rican population has the highest levels of education, is also the place where Puerto Ricans have the best income. The average household income for Puerto Ricans there is $ 87,713. But money there does not yield the same as in Puerto Rico due to the high cost of living. According to the Statistics Institute cost-of- living calculator, in general terms, living in that city costs 50 percent more than in San Juan. That is to say, if something in San Juan costs $1 dollar, in Washington it costs $ 1.5, in theory. 

 Following Washington D.C., Miami ($ 50,945), Chicago ($ 47,232) and New Haven ($ 43,165) are among the cities with higher average household income for Puerto Ricans. 

In Puerto Rico, the average household income is about $ 19,977, according to the Census data.

 Cities where poverty is most severe

In Springfield and Boston, in Massachusetts, as in Hartford, Connecticut, poverty levels are high for Puerto Ricans. For example, 37 percent of the 103,771 Puerto Ricans living in the Springfield metropolitan area have incomes that place them below the poverty level. In the metropolitan area of Boston, poverty reaches 31 percent of the Puerto Ricans, while in Hartford the proportion is 26.5 percent. When the issue is examined by age, poverty can be perceived even more intensely. In Springfield, almost 50 percent of the Puerto Ricans under 18 live below the poverty line, according to federal standards.

Currently, in Puerto Rico, 46 percent of the people live with income that places them below the poverty line. In 2017, people with income less than $ 12,060 were considered poor.

 Employment profile

The most recent Migrant Profile shows that most of those who leave the island have worked in  2016 as administrative office staff (6,822), followed by production lines operators (5,445), salespeople (4,870), food preparers (3,264) and personnel in the movement of materials (3,139).

The so-called brain drain of island´s doctors, according to the Profile data, represented 382 physicians leaving the island. However, the case of nursing professionals, was more dramatic. In total, 1,376 of these workers in the health industry left Puerto Rico.

82 percent of the 2.2 million Puerto Ricans working in the United States are in the private sector, while 4 percent have their own business. While 14 percent work  in government areas. In Puerto Rico, that figure rises to 22 percent, according to data from the Census Bureau.

 On the other hand, most of those who migrated or returned to Puerto Rico were salespeople (1,383) or educators (1,101).


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