Increasing numbers of illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico each year looking for better job opportunities.
Puerto Rico had one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region until 2006; however, growth has been negative for each of the last 11 years. The downturn coincided with the phaseout of tax preferences that had led US firms to invest heavily in the Commonwealth since the 1950s, and a steep rise in the price of oil, which generates most of the island's electricity.
Diminished job opportunities prompted a sharp rise in outmigration, as many Puerto Ricans sought jobs on the US mainland. Unemployment reached 16% in 2011, but declined to 11.5% in December 2017. US minimum wage laws apply in Puerto Rico, hampering job expansion. Per capita income is about two-thirds that of the US mainland.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico square on in September 2017, causing electrical power outages to 90% of the territory, as well as extensive loss of housing and infrastructure and contamination of potable water. Despite massive efforts, more than 40% of the territory remained without electricity as of yearend 2017. As a result of the destruction, many Puerto Ricans have emigrated to the US mainland.