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Puerto Rico Losing Professionals To The Mainland

Updated on May 30, 2014

Brain Drain

Brain drain has occurred in many places across the globe and Puerto Rico is no exception. Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. and the island has experienced a loss in its professionals to many of the U.S. states.

Many Puerto Ricans who are coming fresh out of college with degrees in science, engineering, and nursing are looking for jobs but are not finding work on the island.


The STEM Program

As a result, recruiters and government agencies from the U.S. states flock to career fairs on the island to bring Puerto Ricans into the U.S. workforce especially as a part of the STEM program, which is a program geared towards college students studying in the science, technology, engineering, and math.

According to an USA Today news article, “Puerto Rico has seen a historic population decline in the past few years, and this "brain drain" is a mere symptom of a larger problem rooted in an enduring recession where unemployment is still above 14%, compared with 8.3% nationally” (Nasser, 2012).

Satellite view of Puerto Rico
Satellite view of Puerto Rico | Source

Leaving The Island For The Mainland

Now, so many Puerto Ricans have left the island that more Puerto Ricans live on the mainland than in Puerto Rico. Even with Puerto Rico being a cash-strapped territory and possibly benefiting from becoming a U.S. state, it is still highly unlikely that the island will become the 51st U.S. state.

According to the Economist news source, “Only the federal Congress, to which the island appoints a non-voting “resident commissioner,” can grant statehood, which it has not done since it admitted Hawaii in 1959” (D.R., 2013).

So the commonwealth remains in a limbo where many Puerto Rican professionals are having a challenge to find work and are being forced to leave the island.



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