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Governor lauds lowest monthly Puerto Rico unemployment rate ‘in 50 years’

By on July 20, 2018

Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (Courtesy)

SAN JUAN – Last month’s Puerto Rico jobs survey was announced Friday by both Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who lauded the island’s unemployment rate, which dropped to 9.3%, the lowest in the past 50 years.

The survey also reflected a rise in the number of people employed, labor-force participation rate and salaried employment.

“We acknowledge there is still much work to be done; however, today the numbers show that the actions we have taken have been the right ones and that the island continues on track toward economic development that benefits a new Puerto Rico,” the governor said in a release issued by his office, La Fortaleza.

Rosselló added that the results reveal “the confidence our business sector has in Puerto Rico and the measures implemented to attract foreign capital. The implemented reforms, and coming ones such as energy and tax, will allow us to continue growing.”

In June, the number of people employed in Puerto Rico was 996,000, “which means an increase of 9,000 more people since January 2017 and is the highest figure since October 2013. When compared with June 2017, the total number of employees increased by 11,000 people,” the La Fortaleza release reads.

It points out that in “December 2016, there were 983,000 people employed…when the Government changed, which means 13,000 more jobs created under this Administration following years with constant lows,” adding that ” in the first 18 months of the last administration, there was a decrease of 34,000 fewer people employed.”

Secretary Saavedra, who was alongside the governor for the announcement, said June’s unemployment rate is 0.3% lower than May’s and 1% lower than in June last year, making last month’s the lowest in his agency’s monthly records. “The closest percentage was 9.6% in May 2018 and, previously, 9.7% in September and October of the year 2000,” according to the release.

“When analyzing the monthly numbers registered since 1970 and the annual numbers since 1942, we did not find a rate with a figure of 9.3%. This is accompanied by an increase in the rest of the indicators of the working group and salaried employees, which undoubtedly shows the labor market is taking a positive [turn] and that the public policies of our Government in favor of the labor force and economic competitiveness are yielding good results,” the labor secretary said.

According to the survey, the island’s labor-force participation rate rose to 41.1% in June, a 0.6% increase compared with May and 1.8% higher than June 2017’s rate. La Fortaleza also stressed that since October, “the month after the passage of hurricanes Irma and María,” the participation rate rose 2.6%.

Nonfarm payroll employment, an establishment survey provided monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics–which factors employment, hours, and earnings estimates based on payroll records of business in Puerto Rico–showed about 852,000 salaried positions in June.

Saavedra said June’s total reflects 3,200 more salaried jobs than in May. “However, when relating it to June 2017, the effects of hurricanes Irma and María continue to be seen, reflecting a reduction of 31,200 salaried positions,” he said, adding that since that storms, the has been an increase of “15,800 salaried jobs, although they continue below the numbers registered before the emergencies in September 2017,” according to La Fortaleza’s release.

The Labor Department surveys can be found at (in Spanish).

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