Puerto Ricans Moving To United States Mainland In Record Numbers

Ariel Cohen Contributor
Font Size:

Puerto Ricans are picking up and moving to the continental United States in record numbers.

According to a Pew Research poll released on Monday, Puerto Ricans are moving to the United States mainland in a number unseen since the Great Migration following World War II.

Today, Puerto Ricans are the largest Hispanic origin group living on the American mainland, with over 3.6 million in the continental United States in 2013. Between 2010 and 2013, 144,000 more Puerto Ricans left the U.S. territory for the mainland than left the mainland for the island, according to U.S. Census Bureau data — this record gap is higher than it was during the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.

The number of Puerto Ricans moving to the mainland has increased dramatically since the turn of the millennium, with only 1.3 million living in the continental United States in 2000 and over 3.6 million living in the continental United States in 2013.

Since 2012, Puerto Rico has experienced record unemployment and low labor-force participation rates. According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “Puerto Rico’s economic progress has stalled: The island has been operating below its potential for some time and the competitiveness of the economy continues to deteriorate.”

But fiscal reasons aren’t the only thing propelling Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland.

Among the Puerto Ricans who left, 42 percent cited job-related reasons for moving stateside, 38 percent gave family-related reasons. This compares pretty equally to immigrants from foreign countries over the same time period, 41 percent of whom cited job-related reasons and 29 percent migrating for family reasons. Mexican-born immigrants are the most likely to cite job-related reasons, with 62 percent of immigrants coming to the United States for fiscal opportunities, and only 25 percent moving for family-related reasons.

The majority of Puerto Ricans who migrate to the continental United States settle in the Northeast or the South, with 50 percent and 30 percent settling in those regions, respectively.


Follow Ariel on Twitter

This article has been updated.