Over 1 million people employed in Puerto Rico, gov announces
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Friday that the estimated number of people employed on the island increased to 1,004,000 in July, as well nearly 50% sales growth reports.
“We are aware that we face great challenges to continue developing Puerto Rico to its highest level. We still have a lot to work on. However, the measures that our administration has taken in these 19 months are already paying off. Among them, we include the Permits Reform, the Labor Reform, the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Invest PR, the Medicinal Cannabis Act, and amendments to incentive laws such as acts 20, 22, and 73,” the governor said in a release issued by his office, La Fortaleza.
The administration emphasized that the employment figure was the highest in more than five years, “according to the most recent surveys published by the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resource.”
Rosselló added that what he announced was the “result of our public policy of encouraging economic growth and injecting more money into the economy through measures such as the timely payment of tax reimbursements and assistance to employers affected by the hurricanes.”
“The Labor Group Survey for the month of July 2018 showed that the unemployment rate—for the second consecutive month—was the lowest in at least the last 50 years, at 9.1 percent,” the release reads. “This represents a decrease of 1.2 percent compared to July 2017 and 0.2 percent when related to the previous month. It is the second consecutive month in which the unemployment rate reaches the lowest numbers in the agency records.”
La Fortaleza further said that the island’s labor-force participation rate “was 41 percent, which represents an increase of 1.4 percent compared to July 2017. However, it decreased by 0.1 percent versus the previous month.”
Total employment for July “reflected an increase of 23,000 people working compared to the 981,000 registered in July of last year. This figure, which is the highest since February 2013, also reflected an increase of 8,000 people when compared with the previous month,” it added.
It also quoted Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra as saying that the closest unemployment rate recorded was last month’s, 9.3%, which “demonstrates consistency in the recovery and in the positive results of the public policies implemented by our Government in favor of the workers and the development of a sustainable economy. However, we recognize that there is still a long way to go and several sectors of the economy have not yet recovered from the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria.”
The non-farm payroll survey reflected about 851,700 salaried positions in July, an increase of 100 people when compared with June. However, when compared with July last year, a reduction of 27,100 salaried positions is revealed.
Regarding the pace of jobs after the hurricanes, Saavedra highlighted an increase of 15,500 salaried jobs since October, although the numbers continue below those registered before September.
He said however that the Hotel and Restaurants sector had 77,200 salaried positions, similar to the number of existing jobs in that sector in August last year, a month before the hurricanes struck the island.
“The industrial sectors that reflected rises in salaried positions in relation to the previous month were: Recreation and Lodging, which reflected an increase of 900; Professional and Commercial Services, with an increase of 700; Education Services and Health, which reflected an increase of 50; and Information, with an increase of 100.
“The industrial groups that reflected losses were: Government, with a decrease of 1,100; Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, which reflected a decrease of 400; Mining, Logging and Construction, with a decrease of 200; Manufacturing, which reflected a decrease of 200; and Finance, with a decrease of 200,” according to La Fortaleza’s breakdown.
Also included in the administration’s written announcement, was the executive director of the Trade and Export Co., Ricardo Llerandi, who said commercial establishment sales in May totaled $2.94 billion, or 14.4% more than the same month last year.
“The sectors that informed a greater increase in their sales were furniture stores, with 46.9 percent; specialty food stores with 44.2 percent; and patio and gardening stores with 35 percent,” Llerandi said, adding that the “only sectors that reflected a decrease in sales were shoe stores with 3.7 percent less; and stores of cosmetics, beauty products, and perfumes with 2.5 percent less.”
Small and midsize business sales rose 22% in May, compared with the same month in 2017. “Total sales amounted to $1.09 billion, when in May 2017 they were $890 million,” while “[c]umulative sales between January and May 2018 totaled $13.88 billion,” the release reads.
The governor stressed that these figures with positive trends are also reflected in other statistics such as the index of economic activity, “which reflected an increase of 1 percent from month to month and a decrease in filed bankruptcies,” his office wrote.
“At the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury level, we have increased the number of businesses registered between January and June 2018, from 55,941 to 59,958. This represents an increase of 4,017 registered businesses in the Treasury. We have disbursed more than $100 million to employers affected by the hurricanes, to benefit 4,342 merchants who are mostly SMEs. Likewise, we have carried out a fast payment of the tax reimbursements, which allows us to encourage the economy,” the governor said.