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Outmigration from Puerto Rico to US mainland slows

During 2021 and 2022, data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Puerto Rico Community Survey indicate that outmigration from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland decreased from 27,000 to 16,000, a 41% drop. 

The information is part of the Migrant Profile for 2021-2022, which was published by the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, which provides an overview of the island’s migratory movement. The data still show more people leaving than entering the island in both years. 

Key findings from the Community Survey for Puerto Rico between 2021 and 2022 include:

  • The number of emigrants to the U.S. mainland was estimated at around 55,000 and 43,000 people, respectively, a 21% decrease. This is the first time since 2010 that the number has been below 60,000 emigrants.
  • Approximately 27,000 people immigrated to Puerto Rico each year.
  • The net migration balance decreased from -27,000 to -16,000 people, a 41% decrease.
  • The median age of the outmigrating population decreased from 31.9 to 30.3 years. Immigrants were older than emigrants, with a reduction in the median age from 39 to 33.8 years.
  • The net migration balance of the population with some post-secondary education or higher decreased from about 10,000 (2021) to 4,000 (2022) people outmigrating.

Another key finding was that over the past 12 years (2010-2019 and 2021-2022), approximately 649,000 more people have relocated from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland than in the opposite direction, from the states to Puerto Rico.

In 2022, passenger flow indicated:

  • The net movement of passengers by air from Puerto Rico to all destinations (not only stateside) ranged from 7,000 (-7) to 1,000 (-1) passengers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, respectively.
  • The net movement of passengers by sea (ferry) between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic was 724 passengers, according to Ferries del Caribe.

The geographical distribution of outmigrants to the states in 2022 showed:

  • 47% went to the Southern United States, 25% to the Northeast and 16% to the Midwest.
  • The Northeast saw a gradual decrease, from 47% in 2005 to 25% in 2022.

The top five states with the highest outmigration from Puerto Rico in 2021 were Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and New Jersey, and in 2022, they were Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and New Jersey.

Alberto Velázquez-Estrada, senior manager of statistical projects at the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, stated: “The indicators point to a reduction in net emigration in recent years. There has been a decrease in the significant net emigration flows that prevailed from 2011 to 2019 when net emigration represented between 1.1% and 3.5% of Puerto Rico’s total annual population. 

“Net emigration in 2021 and 2022 represented 0.8% and 0.5% of the total population, respectively. It is important to note that more people are still leaving than entering, which continues to impact the demographic composition of our jurisdiction.”

For more details and information about the full Migrant Profile for 2021-2022 report, as well as previous publications, visit the Publications section at the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics website.

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