Worsening economy and crime spur mass exodus from Puerto Rico

February 2014ECONOMYAlexis Sotomayor has many reasons to stay in Puerto Rico: his two children; his mother and their gossip sessions over plates of fried rice; and the balm of salt and sun that leavens his life on the island. But the artisanal soap business that Mr. Sotomayor built is barely hanging on amid rising costs and taxes, and sales that have sunk by 40 percent in five years. Crime is rampant; his girlfriend was nearly carjacked at gunpoint recently. So last month he boarded a flight to Orlando, Fla., to interview for a job at a rum distillery in the hope of joining the ever-growing Puerto Rican diaspora. “I don’t see it improving,” said Mr. Sotomayor, a 47-year-old chemical engineer. “I see it getting worse. It’s the uncertainty. What am I going to do — wait until it gets worse?” Puerto Rico’s slow-motion economic crisis skidded to a new low last week when both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor, including increasing taxes and rebalancing pensions. But that is only the latest in a sharp decline leading to widespread fears about Puerto Rico’s future. In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas. The situation has grown so dire that this tropical island, known for its breathtaking beaches, salsero vibe and tax breaks, is now mentioned in the same breath as Detroit, with one significant difference.  Puerto Rico, a United States territory of 3.6 million people that is treated in large part like a state, cannot declare bankruptcy. From bottom to top, Puerto Ricans are watching it unfold with a mixture of disbelief and stoicism. Alejandro García Padilla, who was elected Puerto Rico’s governor by a sliver of a margin in 2012, said that after he began to wade deeply into the island’s economic and social quagmire, his fight-or-flight instincts kicked into high gear.
“I thought about asking for a recount,” Mr. García Padilla, 42, said with a grin during a recent interview in La Fortaleza, the 500-year-old government residence, recalling, among other things, the $2.2 billion deficit. “But now it’s too late.” A sense of pessimism pervades on the island. Streets are lined with empty storefronts in San Juan and in smaller cities like Mayagüez; small businesses, hit hard by high electricity, water and tax bills and hurt by drops in sales, have closed and stayed closed. Schools sit shuttered either because of disrepair or because of a dwindling number of students. In this typically convivial capital, communities have erected gates and bars to help thwart carjackers and home invaders. Illegal drugs, including high-level narcotrafficking, are one of the few growth industries. Puerto Rico, about 1,000 miles from Miami, has long been poor. Its per capita income is around $15,200, half that of Mississippi, the poorest state. Thirty-seven percent of all households receive food stamps; in Mississippi, the total is 22 percent. But the extended recession has hit the middle-class hardest of all, economists said. Jobs are still scarce, pension benefits for some are shrinking and budgets continue to tighten. Even many people with paychecks have chosen simply to parlay their United States citizenship into a new life on the mainland. Puerto Rico’s drop in population has far outpaced that of American states. In 2011 and 2012, the population fell by nearly 1 percent, according to census figures. From July 2012 to July 2013, it declined again by 1 percent, or about 36,000 people. That is more than seven times the drop in West Virginia, the state with the steepest population losses.
Coupled with a falling birthrate, the decline is raising worries about how Puerto Rico will thrive with a rapidly aging population and such a large share of jobless residents. Of the island’s 3.67 million people, only one million work in the formal economy. The island has one of the lowest labor participation rates in the world, with only 41.3 percent of working-age Puerto Ricans in jobs; one in four works for the government. “Today, Puerto Ricans with jobs are moving to the U.S.,” said Orlando Sotomayor, an economist at the University of Puerto Rico and the brother of Alexis. “Even people in their 40s and 50s, college professors with complete job security, are doing so. Some are starting all over. The phenomenon is highly uncommon and underscores the lack of hope that the ship can or will be righted.” The current exodus rivals the one in the 1950s, when job shortages on the island forced farmers and rural residents to find factory work in cities like New York and Boston. Today, it is doctors, teachers, engineers, nurses, professors who are leaving Puerto Rico behind. Just about everyone in Puerto Rico has a relative who left recently for Florida, New York, Texas or Virginia, among others. But the decision is never easy. Fathers leave behind children. Houses must be rented or sold at a loss in a glutted market. Businesses must be shut. And English must be polished, or in some cases learned, in a hurry. –NY Times
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This entry was posted in Apathy, Anger, Mistrust, Disillusionment, Austerity, Banking Crisis, Bankruptcy, Boom and Bust Cycles, Civil Unrest, Class Division, Depression and Anxiety, Economic Collapse, Economic Hardship or Loss, Education Failures, Fiat Money Printing Fiasco, Financial market turmoil, Hierarchal Control, Political Corruption, Struggle for Survival, The Pyramid Model, Unemployment rising, Unsustainable Debt Burden, Widening gap between rich and poor. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Worsening economy and crime spur mass exodus from Puerto Rico

  1. Irene C says:

    It seems like it will be about the right time for Puerto Rico to join the union. Guess we need another bankrupt state to bail out.

  2. I live in a suburb of Detroit and although Detroit has financial issues, it’s no where near what Puerto Rico is going through. There are many companies putting dollars into the City of Detroit to create economic growth, jobs and new construction. I wouldn’t be so quick to utter Detroit in the same breath as Puerto Rico.

  3. spud runner says:

    “WICKED DEBT FRAUD” The one and ONLY answer to the debt problem is to declare it null and void because of FRAUD! It is fraud because it is mathematically impossible to repay ! It can not be repaid because the interest is never created on the loan and that is fraud ! And fraud voids all ! If we don’t void all out of thin air debt the bankers will own almost EVERYTHING ! And we will be homeless slaves ! They have a license to counterfeit ! Can I counterfeit the money to repay the loan ? Why not ? If we even attempt to repay a impossible debt (the national debt) all we do is show our ignorance ! The way to fix this mess is so simple a 3rd grader can figure it out ! We void the fraudulent debt! and everyone keeps ALL the items they have so called debt on ! And then we start to use a debt free currency and / or gold and silver ! And then we will have a robust economy like never before — OR WE LET THE BANKERS STEAL EVERYTHING !
    I was in about the third grade when the news was talking about the national debt and I asked my dad who do we owe money to and who could possibly be richer than the United States? and where did they get the money? And then my dad took a gulp off his beer and said we owe it to our self ! I said that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard of ! that’s like me borrowing from my right pocket and setting fire to the interest and putting the rest in my left pocket ! This was about 1972 ! But Dad was wrong! We owe it to international Bankers running the biggest Ponzi scheme on earth called The Federal reserve system! And yes it really is this simple ! The bankers have a shoe in on ALL loans they make ! All they have to do is stop lending and then start foreclosing on ALL debts!-meaning they now own everything that has a debt by having a license to counterfeit ! So we” 1″ keep getting fleeced by continuing to pay this fraudulent scheme ! OR” 2 “we declare ALL out of thin air debt NULL AND VOID because of FRAUD ! And we keep everything we have so called debt on! MOST people don’t get this part Every car, boat, house, machine, tool, farm,ect. has already been paid for by the fraudulent paper! So no one looses ! WE sure as hell cant give it to the banksters! (let them steal it) AND IT DOESENT MATTER IF YOU WANT TO REDUCE THE DEBT 99% ITS STILL UNPAYABLE! So when we void the FRAUD This will be the ultimate FRESH start for everyone ! Share this if you want THE solution to the WORLDS problems! If not everything will continue to get worse until we have HONEST DEBT FREE MONEY /and GOLD AND SILVER ! And there is plenty of gold and silver! just Divide the paper money (FRN) by the gold /silver and you have the value of them! NO MATTER WHAT IT COMES TO per OZ ! Then we would be happy to work for SAY A ONE OZ. SILVER COIN A day ! Because a one OZ. silver coin ( REAL MONEY ) will buy what $100 – $200 did before the reset! THINK ABOUT IT! This is what Scripture calls the jubilee ! “WICKED” Debt And the amount and size of the debt has nothing to do with it being mathematically impossible to pay This fraud is so “WICKED” that even a $10 loan is a Ponzi scheme here’s how it works ! I’m the new banks first customer ( CHUMP ) I borrow $10 @ 1% interest I now owe the bank $10.10 but ALL the money in the world is $10 the .10 cents doesn’t exist so some one else has to borrow some so called money and I have to find a way to get .10 cents from them so I can repay my loan ! Now say they borrowed $10 also now I somehow get .10 cents from them to pay my loan back ! But now he is short .20 cents to pay his loan ! so now you can see how a $100,000. house that will cost you $ 265,000 to pay off because you have to pay $165,000 in interest is a GIGANTIC PONZI SCHEME ! Now multiply that by millions of people in the U.S. and you can see how It turned into the monster debt we see today ! And for the loans that do get repaid multiple people have to default on there loans for you to pay off your loan ! NOW you can understand why we have a rapidly growing homeless problem ! Now that is a WICKED debt money system that we must declare Void !

  4. jill says:

    Puerto Rico F*$%ing sucks !!!!!!!!!! I cant wait to get the hell out of here…..

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