Changes in the Structure of Low-Wage Labor Markets and Skills Selectivity among Puerto Rican Migrants

M. Anne Visser and Edwin Melendez
Published in
CENTRO Journal, Volume 23 (2011), 46-61

This study provides an analysis of the occupational and educational selectivity of Puerto Rican migration to and from the United States using consolidated data from the American Community Survey for 2006 to 2008. Using existing theoretical explanations of migration, the study assesses the extent to which current explanations of migration are applicable to the most recent migratory flows. To ascertain the validity of the proposition that Puerto Rican migration flows are primarily composed of the most disadvantaged workers, we divided the sample into two labor market segments—those employed in low-wage occupations and those not employed in low-wage occupations. The main conclusions of this study are that net migration outflows from the island are likely to persist to the extent that growing disparities in labor market conditions between Puerto Rico and the United States persist, and that the patterns of selectivity predicted by various theories of migration are not unmistakably identifiable in current flows. Such evidence calls for a new look at the case of Puerto Rican migration.