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The extended period of simultaneous contraction and inflation that followed the 1973 crisis—and a series of neoliberal economic reforms that were instituted in response—signaled a massive reorganization of work and production processes that in many ways continue to the present day.This ongoing restructuring was regionally and temporally uneven, but across the economy the general long term trend was toward a contraction of comparatively secure high-wage, high-benefit (often union) jobs in the manufacturing and industrial sectors and a corresponding growth of increasingly precarious low-wage, low benefit, often non-union jobs in the expanding service and informal sectors of a transformed economy.
Whereas the INS reported apprehending an average of about 57,000 unauthorized migrants per year in the nine years between Operation Wetback, a federal program that deported illegal Mexican immigrants from the southwestern U.
Reflecting their diverse origins and experiences, Central Americans have clustered in different areas of the country, with Salvadorans prominent in Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.
C.; Guatemalans in California and Texas; Nicaraguans in Miami; and Hondurans in Florida, Texas, and elsewhere.
During the peak years of the program between 19, an average of more than 400,000 laborers (predominantly from Mexico, but augmented by smaller numbers of Jamaicans, Bahamians, Barbadians, and Hondurans as well) were employed in the U. By the time the program was finally terminated in 1964, nearly 5 million contracts had been issued. The guest worker program instituted in the early 1940s also had the largely unanticipated effect of increasing both sanctioned and unsanctioned migration to the U. Consequently, the number of Mexicans who legally immigrated to the U. increased steadily in the 1950s and 1960s, rising from just 60,000 in the decade of the 1940s to 219,000 in the 1950s and 459,000 in the 1960s. More importantly over the long run, the Bracero Program helped to stimulate a sharp increase in unauthorized Mexican migration. In addition, Puerto Rican entrepreneurs also began to expand what would soon become a thriving ethnic economy servicing the needs of the region's rapidly expanding population. Puerto Rican emigration to the mainland accelerated after the war.
Drawn to the prospect of improving their material conditions in the U. (where wages were anywhere from seven to ten times higher than those paid in Mexico), tens of thousands of Mexicans (almost all of them males of working age) chose to circumvent the formal labor contract process and instead crossed the border surreptitiously. Facing chronic unemployment on the island (which fluctuated between 10.4 percent and 20 percent for the entire period between 19), and the dislocations in both the rural and urban work forces caused in part by "Operation Bootstrap," a massive government sponsored plan to attract investment and light industry to the island, the Puerto Rican mainland population jumped from fewer than 70,000 in 1940 to more than 300,000 in 1950 and continued to climb to 887,000 by 1960.