What is Puerto Rico going to rebuild with if they can’t keep their best people at home?
Sánchez and Corujo went to Florida, the latest in a recent migration wave to the Sunshine State that began around 2006 with the island’s economic crisis. The Puerto Rican population in Florida shot up from 479,000 in 2000 to over 1 million in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. There was an uptick after the hurricane — during the 8 months after the storm, about 30,000 to 50,000 Puerto Ricans permanently settled in Florida, according to Stefan Rayer, Population Program Director at the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
While most headlines about Florida’s growing Puerto Rican presence focus on the Orlando-Kissimmee metro area, a growing number of professionals have been coming to Miami, attracted by the higher salaries and standard of living.
This flow of upper-and-middle-class doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers and entrepreneurs to South Florida is not new. For the past few decades, the Miami metropolitan area has become the home to thousands coming from South and Central America and the Caribbean, arriving with university degrees, work experience and lots of buying power.
“I have Puerto Rican friends working in the best hospitals, in dental offices, in law firms,” said Emil R. Infante, 48, a partner in the law firm Holland & Knight, who has lived in Miami 19 years. “They’ve got U.S. passports, they’re bilingual, and they have professional experience, and they make more money in lower level jobs here than high-level jobs there.”
“I’m also talking about a young generation of entrepreneurs,” Infante added. “This is a perfect market for them. They’re hungry, they want to work, and they want to participate in the political process.”