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Net emigration between US and Puerto Rico pegged at 550K from 2011-2020

The Census Information Center at the University of Puerto Rico’s Cayey campus recently published an analysis of net emigration estimates between Puerto Rico and the United States from 2011 to 2020, which put that number at 550,421 people.

The estimates are based on surveys that the US Census Bureau conducts in the United States and in Puerto Rico, and in the specific case of the year affected by Hurricane María, they were based on a combination of travel sources and administrative data.

“During the entire period there was a net emigration of 550,421 people. Net emigration was gradually increasing and reached its maximum value in the fiscal year that Hurricane María arrived with 123,399 emigrants,” said Economist José Caraballo-Cueto, director of the Center.

“Then there was a brief net return immigration in 2019 with 7,733 immigrants, which is probably due to the fact that many of the people who left after the hurricane had no plans to migrate permanently,” he said.

“In 2020, the last available fiscal year, the emigration pattern resumed, but only about 26,247 people left in net terms. This emigration was much more moderate than in the period of 2011-2017,” Caraballo-Cueto said.

The economist and researcher explained that “this may be attributed to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic in US mainland helped to deter Puerto Rican emigration and that Puerto Rico’s post-Maria economic recovery has held back a number of those who thought to migrate. However, more analysis is needed to explain this peculiar dynamic.”

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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