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Why more Mexicans are leaving United States than entering

At least 1 million people have left the United States since 2009. 

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Feliciano Bermejo speaks during an interview Wednesday, in Tijuana, Mexico. Bermejo spent 21 years in the United States before returning voluntarily to Mexico. A new study finds more Mexicans are leaving the United States than coming to the country, marking a reversal to one of the most significant immigration trends in US history.

Gregory Bull/AP

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A slow economic recovery and a declining job market are driving more Mexicans to leave the United States than enter it, according to a report released Thursday by Pew Research Center. 

Analysis of government data from Mexico and the US suggests that migration between the two countries is at the lowest level in at 15 years.

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Between 2009 and 2014, 1 million people departed for Mexico, including children of Mexican descent who were born in the US, according to the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Dynamics.

Another estimate based on US census statistics showed approximately 870,000 Mexicans immigrated to the US from Mexico.

"This is the first time that we have the actual evidence and numbers of people going back," report author Ana Gonzalez-Barrera told the Associated Press.

Pew said many Mexicans surveyed during face-to-face interviews indicated that life wasn’t much better in the US than in Mexico, and that many departed voluntarily, in many cases to be with their families.

One man, who returned to Mexico in 2005 after working illegally in Los Angeles restaurants for 10 years, told the AP that feeling out of place and dealing with discrimination eventually drew him back to his home. He now works as a Mexico City taxi driver.

"My mother was sick, my kids were sad, and no amount of money is worth such sadness," said Jose Arellano Correa. "The only way I'd go back now is legally. And if I could go, I would want to work and be able to come back to see my family."

Pew’s analysis also showed that since 1965, 16 million Mexicans have moved to the United States. In 2007, nearly 13 million Mexicans were living in the US, about 7 million illegally. By 2014, the overall figure dropped to 11.7 million.

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Despite the downward trend, Mexico remains the world’s largest source of new immigrants to the United States, the report said.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.