Struggling economy causing Puerto Ricans to move to U.S.

Puerto Rico's economy is $73 billion in debt

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Puerto Rico’s struggling economy is causing residents to migrate to the U.S. 22News found out how that’s impacting Western Massachusetts.

“Since the economy is getting so bad in Puerto Rico, we decided to move.”

Despite having a doctorate in education, Milagros Martinez struggled to find and keep a job in Puerto Rico. She and her husband, a well-known artist on the island, moved to Springfield for a better life.

Martinez said, “We decided to look for a place where we could actually make a contribution as professionals and use our talents and our skills to develop people.”

In addition to teaching art, Martinez and her husband also teach English to newly arrived Puerto Ricans, so they can get a job.

While the economy is especially poor in Puerto Rico right now, Jose Rubeiro of the Latino Chamber of Commerce said they haven’t noticed any real changes here in Western Massachusetts. That’s because Puerto Rican families have been moving here for years.

Puerto Ricans are moving out of their country at an unprecedented rate. The island’s economy is $73 billion in debt, due to years of government overspending and high energy costs.

It’s impacting all social classes.

Rubeiro told 22News, “What we have seen is eager and excited individuals coming from Puerto Rico, a lot of professionals and college graduates looking to start their own businesses, primarily seeking a job.”

Every time people leave, the island loses tax revenue, which makes it even more difficult for the government to pay off its debt.

“There are opportunities here in Holyoke and in the United States and also we’re making an extra effort to embrace new businesses and new startups,” said Kathy Anderson, President of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce.

Our nation was founded on people searching for a better life. And Western Massachusetts promises that hope for thousands of Puerto Ricans.

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