Floriricans versus other Puerto Ricans: A comparison

By Centro Staff

The shift of the epi-center of all things Puerto Rican to Florida has been in the making for some time. The numbers recently, and increasingly, confirmed as much. In our last issue, scholars weighed in on what this may mean for Puerto Ricans in Florida and Puerto Ricans as a community in the U.S. In this follow-up article, we share highlights from recent examination of recently released Census data for 2014 published by Centro about how Floriricans compare to other Puerto Ricans stateside and on the island (to download the full Centro report click here). Are they faring better, worse, about the same as their counterparts in other states and in Puerto Rico itself? What are we to make of all this? You can find the full report here. We untangle all the numbers for you below:

  • Lower Unemployment Rates (that still lag behind): Puerto Ricans in the U.S. have a higher employment rate than in Puerto Rico. That of Florida Puerto Ricans is slightly lower than other stateside Puerto Ricans. 
     
  • FloriRicans earn slightly less than others (with the exception of 1 group):  Puerto Ricans in the Northeast make more money than Puerto Ricans in Florida. Puerto Ricans in Florida make more money than Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. 


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  • The majority of the buying power of the Puerto Rican community is stateside: Marketers take notice. Puerto Ricans as a whole have a purchasing power of $17.7 billion. 72.1% of that is in the hands of Puerto Ricans in the United States.  


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  • Florida Puerto Ricans lag behind in education: Though the level of education stateside is about equal across states, Puerto Ricans in Florida achieved bachelor’s and graduate degrees at a much lower rate than in Puerto Rico. This should help put an end to the pervasive brain drain myth, or at the very least to the idea that Puerto Ricans in Florida are more educated than anywhere else. 


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  • Puerto Ricans in Florida barely receive cash public assistance: The number of Puerto Ricans in Florida who receive cash public assistance is slightly lower (4.10%) than in other states (6.9%), and twice as low as the island’s. In fact, the majority of Puerto Ricans who come to Florida seem to be driven by higher employment opportunities and earnings. Time to retire the old trope about how Puerto Ricans are moving to the states to enjoy welfare benefits.  


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  • …And before we throw island Puerto Ricans under the bus, note that Puerto Rico’s poverty rate is inordinately high, increasing the proportion of people that qualify for assistance. 


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  • English only, or mainly, please (a menos que estés en la Florida): Stateside Puerto Ricans across the nation will tell you, mainly in English (4 out of 5), that they speak English fluently or English only. That said, the devil is in the details, and the numbers show that Puerto Ricans in Florida are less fluent in English than their counterparts in other states.


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In all, Floriricans share similarities and hold their own unique traits when compared to other Puerto Ricans stateside and islandside. One thing is for sure, however, the sliught differences and discrepancies do not erase the resilient nature of a people that come and go, in nomadic patters, chasing better opportunities. That is the Puerto Rican experience more generally in a nutshell. 


© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 16 October 2015.

Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.