Dominicans Leaving NYC for Cheaper Locales

(Photo via El Diario/La Prensa)

(Photo via El Diario/La Prensa)

Although not as massively as they did in the 1980s, Dominicans continue to arrive in the U.S. in large numbers. New York is the point of entry for 51 percent of them. What is different today is that they are often leaving NYC to live in other states.

“New York has lost more Dominicans than it has gained, if you count the people who arrive from the Republic,” said Ramona Hernández, Director of CUNY’s Dominican Studies Institute. “The preferred place where Dominicans are heading is Florida, followed by New Jersey.”

Hernández used figures published by the Census to analyze Dominican migration both nationally and internationally in her paper “Old Places, New Places: Geographic Mobility of Dominicans in the U.S.” The numbers indicate that the Dominican population in the U.S. grew 51 percent between 2000 and 2010, reaching 1.5 million people.

Still, it is not recently-arrived Dominicans but those who have been in the U.S. for some time who are moving within the U.S. “We believe that people who are here are able to weigh and compare [their options.] They have become aware of other places and have seen that life is less expensive there and that they could afford more with their salaries elsewhere,” said Hernández. “They are going to places like Florida, where housing is much cheaper than in New York.”

The researcher said that Dominicans first come to New York because a large community of their compatriots has lived here for decades but, as soon as they feel more comfortable, they evaluate other possibilities. Aside from Florida, they tend to move to New Jersey and even to less traditional areas such as South Carolina.

There are two sides to this phenomenon: “On the one hand, it is good that people are able to move because they are seeking better opportunities, but the question remains about the implications of Dominicans grabbing their bags and leaving after being in one place for 10 or 15 years,” said Hernández. She believes that this could erode identity and traditions. “Cultural transmission is more effective where there are established communities. If you move and move, it is as if historical memory was reset each time. From a cultural legacy perspective, that is a cause for concern.”

Even though Hernández’s study did not compare the situation of other Latino groups, the researcher pointed out that the trend looks similar to the one currently seen in the Puerto Rican community. “It is as if we were following the Puerto Ricans’ lead,” she said. “We landed in New York and settled in their neighborhoods. Now, we are following them down to Florida. We seem to trail along.”

New frontiers for Dominicans

Between 2001 and 2011, migration within the U.S. was one of the main trends in the Dominican community. These were the states where they chose to land:

Florida: 63,200

New Jersey: 49,194

New York: 45,908

Pennsylvania 34,057

Massachusetts 23,129

Young immigrants

Most of the people who arrived in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic were young:

Under 18: 34.4%

18 – 24: 13.7%

25 – 34: 16.1%

35 – 44: 13.7%

45 – 54: 9.0%

55 – 64: 6.1%

Over 65: 7.1%

 

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