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Puerto Rico Development Bank: Economic Activity Index rise is ‘encouraging’

By on November 28, 2018

SAN JUAN – The Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico (EDB) published Wednesday its Economic Activity Index (EAI) for the island. The indicators for October, its release highlighted, reflect a “substantial” improvement in the economy.

The EDB-EAI is made up of four indicators:

  • Total Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey/Thousands of employees). This variable is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor and Human Resources (BLS) on a monthly basis. The establishment survey provides employment, hours, and earnings estimates based on payroll records of business establishments in Puerto Rico.
  • Total Electric Power Generation (Millions of kilowatt-hours [kWh]). This variable is provided by the Puerto Rico Power Authority (PREPA) on a monthly basis. This indicator includes the electric power generation produced by petroleum, natural gas, coal and renewable energy sources. The renewable energy is supplied by utility-scale solar photovoltaic generating capacity, two wind farms and landfill gas sources.
  • Cement Sales (Millions of 94-pound bags). This variable is provided by CEMEX Puerto Rico & Argos Puerto Rico LLC on a monthly basis. The data are compiled and converted by the EDB.
  • Gas Consumption (Millions of gallons). This variable is provided by Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) on a monthly basis. The EDB adjusts the series with a three-month moving average.

“The EAI for the month of October registered a level of 120.4, which represents a substantial increase of 15.5% when compared with the same month of the previous year, this being the second increase after 69 consecutive months of year-on-year reductions,” EDB President Luis Burdiel said. “More importantly, the EAI’s accumulated average for fiscal year 2019 registered a level of 121.4, which translates into a growth of 4.6% versus the result for the same period of fiscal year 2018.”

EDB President Luis Burdiel (Courtesy)

In October, cement sales on the island increased by 132.4% and electric power generation rose 420% compared with the same month last year. Another indicator, gasoline consumption, increased 4.2% and non-farm salaried employment increased by 2.1%.

From July to August, the government-owned bank’s release added, the hotel- and parador-room occupancy rate was 72.2%, “which means a reduction of 5.7% compared to the same period of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. However, for the period of August 2018, the movement of passengers on cruise ships was 134,274 compared to 114,186 for August 2017, which entails an increase of more than 20,088 passengers, or 17.6%.”

From July to September this year, 2,874 homes were sold, or 1,000 more than during the same period last year, for a 35% increase.

Meanwhile, according to data provided by the Federal Bankruptcy Court, the number of bankruptcies filed from July to September was 1,999, “a substantial reduction when compared with the last administration: same period for fiscal years 2014 -2015 (2,718) 2015-2016 (2,665) and 2016-2017 (2,633). That is a reduction of at least 25% in bankruptcy filings if we compare them with any year” of the previous administration, the EDB said.

In October, some 31,000 more people were employed than the same month last year, leaving the current total at 1,005,000 people with jobs. The unemployment rate for October was pegged at 8.3%, a 3.1% drop when compared with the same month in 2017.

The labor-force participation rate reached 40.3% in October, or 1.8% higher than in October 2017. The number of people self-employed was 150,000, or 17,000 more in relation to October 2017. Non-farm employment totaled 853,600 jobs last month, an increase of 17,300 jobs compared with October 2017.

“These results show that the measures we have taken are giving results after more than a decade of job and economic activity loss. The reforms to the permitting system, the labor framework and the energy system foster the confidence of the economic sectors. Other measures such as the creation of DMO [destination marketing organization], Invest PR and the new medicinal Cannabis industry contribute to our economic progress,” Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy added in the government release.

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