Is The United States Stealing Puerto Rico’s Professionals?


By: Jorge E. Ortiz Montalvo


Puerto Rican professionals can have better working conditions and salaries in the United States than in Puerto Rico. Four out of five University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez (UPRM) students are thinking of leaving the island to go to the U.S. after graduation where their chances of obtaining a “good” job are greater, said economy professor Orlando Sotomayor during a press conference about “brain drain” held at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez on October 17.

“In the past six years the recently graduated student’s salary has decreased around 20 to 25 percent,” Sotomayor explained to justify the fact that youth are abandoning their economically unstable homeland for a better the job market in the US.

The press conference on brain drain was held in campus by a group of students. The panel was made up of: sociologist Michael Gonzalez, economist Orlando Sotomayor, and Brian Rullán (testimony, expanding business internationally). In the press conference, moving to the U.S. was said to be the easiest solution for many people.

Some people compare cost/benefit while living in P.R. and living in the U.S. While both countries economies are not in a good shape. Miscellaneous and other everyday items are cheaper in the U.S, because most of these objects are made there and do not need to be sent overseas.


While some people leave the island without thinking what will be of their homeland, others do think about it. When masses of professionals leave their country the impact on the countries economy is huge. Companies lose good talent and workers so their productivity decreases starting a chain reaction that affects everyone.

With the economy being affected this way, the country starts to struggle. “The Economic situation in the island right now is not surprising to younger people because it has been going on for so long that you have lived in it for most of your life, when it is actually a huge crisis we are living in” said Professor Sotomayor.
Panelists debated solutions to the current crisis. For sociology professor Michael González the solution lies in training people not to be salaried professionals but to be professionals “with an entrepreneur way of thinking.”


González’s argument was that while most people train to go work for a big company, people should train to work towards starting a big company. These big local companies are the best and smartest way to promote change in the island economical crisis.


On the other hand, Brian Rullán, a mechanical engineering student at UPRM, has already his sights set on the families business. “My plan is to increase our market in Florida and New York for example while applying my knowledge obtained from gaining my degree,” said Brian during the press conference.

Other people that leave the island have their goals set to return after a couple of years. Some because they want to return to where they grew up in and others because, of family and friends. But others know that they can take what they have learned in the outside and incorporate it in the island, or they can take what they have started in the outside and continue it inside the island so the country can benefit from it.

Job fair at University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez. (2013)

Job fair at University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez. (2013)


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