Puerto Rico gov announces employment rise, low unemployment rate
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced that, for the sixth consecutive month, the estimated number of people employed in Puerto Rico rose, to an estimated 1,007,000.
The August figure represents some 30,000 more workers than in the same month last year, a figure not seen on the island in the past five years, according to the release issued Friday by the governor’s office, La Fortaleza.
“We recognize that we still have a lot to do, but our reforms have shown positive signs in the economy, which has been deteriorating for more than 10 years. We will continue to promote the reforms that make Puerto Rico more competitive, while at the same time fostering the economy. The new tax model we presented to the Legislative Assembly will be essential to continue…this positive trend,” the governor said.
The Working Group Survey for August showed that the unemployment rate was the lowest in at least the last 50 years, 8.8 percent. This represents a 1.6 percent drop compared with August 2017 and of 0.3 percent in relation to July this year.
It is the third consecutive month in which the unemployment rate drops to the lowest numbers on record, La Fortaleza said.
Meanwhile, the labor-force participation rate in August was 40.4 percent, which represents an increase of 0.6 percent compared with August 2017; however, it dropped by 0.6 percent versus July 2018. The 40.4 percent participation rate is the highest for the month of August in the past five years.
The number of people employed in August reflected an increase of 30,000 people working compared with the 977,000 in August last year. This figure, which is the highest since January 2013, also reflected an increase of 3,000 people compared with July this year.
Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra Gutiérrez said the continuing positive indicators are a result of several public policies of this administration, although he acknowledged much remains to be done.
“Without a doubt, these numbers reflect consistency in economic recovery and a favorable impact on the workforce. Although there are several sectors of the economy that still have not fully recovered from the impact of hurricanes Irma and María, there are others, such as self-employment, that have strengthened,” Saavedra Gutiérrez said.
The official added that the latter figure “stood at 161,000 people, which reflected an increase of 8,000 people compared to the previous month and 6,000 when compared to August 2017. This shows that joint efforts between agencies and other sectors to make Puerto Rico a more competitive jurisdiction to do business are being effective.”
The surveys showed there was an increase of 16,000 people employed in the construction sector, as compared with August 2017. The figure reached 45,000 workers in August 2018, versus 29,000 reported in August last year.
The nonfarm payroll employment survey reflected about 850,200 salaried positions in August, which represents 1,000 fewer compared with July.
Regarding the recovery from the impact of last year’s hurricanes in September, Saavedra Gutiérrez said there has been an increase of about 14,000 salaried jobs since October, although the numbers remain under those registered before the storms struck.
However, the secretary stressed that the hotel and restaurant sector had 77,400 salaried positions in August, an increase of about 200 people versus August 2017, a month before the hurricanes hit. “Also, it means an increase of 200 salaried jobs compared to July 2018,” the release reads.
The industrial sectors that logged an increase in salaried positions in relation to the previous month were: commerce, transportation and utilities, which saw an increase of 200. The financial sector also added 200 people, as did recreation and lodging, while manufacturing rose by 100 people.
The industrial groups that reflected losses in August when compared with the previous month were government, with 800 fewer; professional and commercial services, at 600 fewer; and educational and health services with a decrease of 300.