Monday, May 20, 2019

Puerto Rico gov: Year began with more jobs, another unemployment drop

By on March 11, 2019

Number of people working in January dropped by 4,000 compared with December

(Photo by Venveo on Unsplash)

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares announced Monday that, in January, the employment figures showed interannual increases, with the private sector adding 32,500 salaried compared with the same month last year, and another drop in the unemployment rate.

“The work to continue boosting our workforce continues on track and the figures we are announcing today are evidence of the work we undertook,” the governor said.

According to the most recent surveys published by the Department of Labor and Human Resources, which are certified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nonfarm payroll employment, which is based on the payroll of commercial establishments, was estimated at 871,300 salaried positions in January. This represents 21,100 more jobs than the same month last year but 400 fewer than in the previous month.

On the other hand, salaried employment in the private sector was estimated at 669,700, about 600 more jobs than in December 2018 “and 32,500 more than in the same month of the previous year,” the governor’s office release added.

The Working Group survey estimated the number of people working in January at 984,000, which represents some 14,000 more workers when compared with the estimated 970,000 people employed the same month in 2018, but 4,000 fewer than in December 2018.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, stood at 8.4 percent for January, a 2.1 percent decline from the year before period. When compared with December last year, the drop was of 0.1 percent.

January’s labor-force participation rate was estimated at 40.1 percent, or 0.6 percent lower than for December and 0.2 percent than the same month in 2018.

“We started 2019 with positive indicators that confirm the continuous strengthening of the labor force and the economy of Puerto Rico. There are tangible results from the steps taken by this administration, such as the increase in salaried jobs in the private sector, which includes the construction sector and the Leisure and Hospitality sector, also validating the efforts made in tourism,” Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra Gutiérrez said in the release, adding that “the recovery process continues at a good pace, although we recognize that there are still indicators to improve, such as the participation rate, which remains at unacceptable levels.”

The official noted that the number of salaried jobs in the private sector “even exceeded the number recorded in August 2017, the month before the hurricanes, by reflecting 7,900 additional jobs” compared with that period, the release reads. “Therefore, this sector has shown total recovery” from the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes.

The sectors that added jobs when compared with January last year were: Trade, Transportation and Utilities (10,600), Professional and Business Services (5,400); Leisure and Hospitality (4,800); Education and Health Services (3,800); Mining, Logging and Construction (3,500); Manufacturing (2,000); Financial Activities (1,100); Information (700); and Other Services (600).

Meanwhile, the Government dropped 11,400 salaried jobs compared to January 2018, “which is consistent with the policies of reduction of expenses of the current administration,” the release says.

Self-employment on the island was estimated at 180,000 people, about 14,000 more than in January last year. The construction sector also rose to 58,000 people employed, about 14,000 more compared with January 2018.

The data for 2018 are projected and subject to final revision next year.

U.S. data

U.S. nonfarm payroll employment changed little in February (+20,000), and the unemployment rate declined to 3.8 percent, the BLS reported Friday. Employment in professional and business services, health care, and wholesale trade continued to trend up, while construction employment decreased.

The U.S. unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.8 percent in February, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 300,000 to 6.2 million. Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs (including people on temporary layoff) declined by 225,000, according to the BLS, which said the “decline reflects, in part, the return of federal workers who were furloughed in January due to the partial government shutdown.”

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), Whites (3.3 percent), and Hispanics (4.3 percent) decreased in February. The jobless rates for adult women (3.4 percent), teenagers (13.4 percent), Blacks (7.0 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little or no change over the month.

In February, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was “essentially unchanged” at 1.3 million and accounted for 20.4 percent of the unemployed.

The labor-force participation rate held at 63.2 percent in February and has changed little over the year.

“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) decreased by 837,000 to 4.3 million in February,” the BLS release reads.”This decline follows a sharp increase in January that may have resulted from the partial federal government shutdown. (Persons employed part time for economic reasons would have preferred full-time employment but were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.).”

The Puerto Rico surveys can be found in Spanish at www.mercadolaboral.pr.gov. Statistical data can be found at www.bls.gov.

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