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Labor force recovers slightly in Puerto Rico after hurricanes

By on December 26, 2017

SAN JUAN – The survey prepared by the Puerto Rico Labor Department revealed that the island’s labor force participation rate stood at 40.6% in November, which represents a slight increase compared with last year, despite the interruptions caused by Hurricane María.

For the same period last year, the labor force participation rate had been estimated at 40%. Therefore, the unemployment rate, non-seasonally adjusted, in November was 10.4%, thus, a reduction of 0.6 percentage points is observed when compared with November 2016 when it was 11%.

When looked at by age group, the survey showed that people ages 35 to 44 years have the highest level of labor participation, or 71.8% of the economically active population in November, with 49% men and 33.3% women.

There were 1,115,000 people working in November, an increase of 4,000 compared with the same period last year, when there were 1,111,000 workers.

Among the main reasons among the people not included in the working group survey for November were domestic jobs, 29.4%; retired, 23.2%; attending school, 18%; and disabled, 15.5%.

However, the non-farm wage employment in Puerto Rico, which is based on the payroll of establishments on the island, was 850,500 in November. Compared with the same month last year, when it was 890,900, a decrease of 40,400 salaried jobs is seen.

The industries that registered losses were trade, transportation and utilities (13,400); educational and health services (7,800); leisure and hospitality (7,000); government (4,100); manufacturing (3,100); mining, logging and construction (2,400); professional and business services (1,600); financial activities (800); information (100) and other Services (100).

In October, the participation rate stood at 38.6%, its lowest in 27 years. Meanwhile, salaried employment on the island was the lowest amount since at least 1990.

This data is usually seasonally adjusted, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics could not make the adjustment for November because it lacked September data since the employment survey could not be carried out in the immediate aftermath of two hurricanes.

Puerto Rico labor force rate at lowest in 27 years

“The official surveys of the month of November contrasted sharply with the labor scenario in October, which measured the immediate impact of hurricanes Irma and María. Fortunately, there was no loss of additional employment between the months of October and November. On the contrary, the surveys reflected a recovery in employment, which is a reflection that while businesses continue to open, people will return to their jobs,” Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra said in a statement.

“However, this does not mean we have overcome the disastrous effects of the atmospheric phenomena on our economy, since we are still below the number of jobs we had before the hurricanes. At the Department of Labor, we will keep an eye on these surveys to continue observing the effect of Irma and María on our economy and the recovery efforts of this administration,” he added.

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