Government insists jobs lost in Puerto Rico were due to hurricanes Irma, María
SAN JUAN – William Villafañe, the chief of staff to the governor of Puerto Rico, and the island’s Labor secretary, Carlos Saavedra, denied Sunday allegations made at a press conference by Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Reps. Rafael “Tatito” Hernández and Luis Vega Ramos regarding the number of jobs lost in 2017.
“Part of the leadership of the PDP alleged today, with incorrect information, that this administration is responsible for the loss of about 40,000 salaried jobs during 2017. These statements lack serious foundation and they certainly know they are incorrect,” Saavedra said in a release.
“No one is denying that Puerto Rico faces major social and economic challenges following the passage of hurricanes Irma and María. We have taken measures to address the economic emergency caused by the passage of the hurricanes and help the private sector to recover. For example, the Department of the Treasury made restaurants and small businesses exempt, for a specific period, from having to pay IVU [Spanish acronym for sales and use tax] to help their recovery and stimulate economic activity, while the Department of Labor granted extensions for the payment of Unemployment Insurance contributions in order to alleviate the economic burden of the private sector due the passage of the atmospheric phenomena,” he said.
Saavedra assured that official employment statistics in Puerto Rico reflect a positive impact from these measures, since in November “the private sector recovered some 6,600 salaried positions, reflecting an increase between October  and November 2017: from 622,100 to 628,700 salaried positions.”