Why more Puerto Ricans are living in mainland U.S. than in Puerto Rico
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Sat March 22, 2014
(CNN) -- If it were up to Surey Miranda, she would have never left her family in Puerto Rico. Miranda, a college graduate, says she had little choice.
"It was a challenge to find a job in Puerto Rico," said Miranda, 24, who graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a political science degree in 2012. "Unfortunately, finding work in government can be challenging, especially since it's the island's main source of employment." Miranda did everything she was supposed to do: She got her degree, worked as an intern in various places and even landed a part-time position with the Puerto Rico House of Representatives.
Now, Miranda is one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who have left the U.S. territory in recent years in search of a better life in the U.S. mainland.
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While Puerto Ricans have migrated to the United States for several generations, the number of departures from 2000-2010 marks the largest migration wave, at 300,000, since the 1950s, when close to a half-million migrated to the mainland during the entire decade. So many residents have left the island over the years that there are a million more Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States (4.9 million as of 2011) than in Puerto Rico (3.7 million).
Why such a massive population shift in recent years? Mario Marazzi, executive director of the Puerto Rican Institute of Statistics, says it's mainly because of the 2006 recession that is still punishing the island's economy.
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Last week, in an attempt to avoid financial ruin, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla signed a bill authorizing the sale of $3.5 million in tax-free general obligation bonds. Even if the auction is successful, the bonds are considered pretty risky. In other words, if you thought Detroit was in trouble, Puerto Rico is much worse mainly for this reason: Unlike Detroit, the island cannot file for bankruptcy court protection. That option is only for municipalities and Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory.
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For Miranda, getting a job wasn't the only factor in her decision to leave Puerto Rico. The rising cost of utilities, rent, gas and tolls were also something she needed to consider. "Back home, I was sharing an apartment with six other students and still my expenses were taking up 70% of my salary. It was simply impossible," Miranda said. While the cost of living in New York City is more than double the national average, the cost of living in Puerto Rico is not the best-case scenario for a recent college graduate. For example, basic monthly utilities including electricity, heating and water cost about $246 in Puerto Rico as opposed to New York's $161.read more ...