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Puerto Rico gov’t: Unemployment at record low for 4th stratight month

By on October 19, 2018

SAN JUAN – The estimate of people employed in Puerto Rico in September reflects an increase of 32,000 compared with the same month, and the island’s unemployment rate reached 8.4% last month, “another historical low,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced via a press release issued Friday by his office, La Fortaleza.

According to the Labor Department’s surveys, September became the fourth consecutive month with record low unemployment.

“We still have a lot to do, but the improvement in the labor landscape and economic statistics show that the reforms we have implemented to make Puerto Rico more competitive have had a positive effect. These improving indicators had been in negative territory for more than 10 years,” the governor said.

The 8.4% unemployment rate reflects a decrease of 2.2% compared with September 2017 and 0.4% lower than for August this year. “This number is a new historical record in Puerto Rico,” La Fortaleza stressed.

The number of unemployed people dropped by 4,000 versus August and by 22,000 compared with September 2017.

Last month, the labor force survey, found about 1,007,000 people working, or some 32,000 more workers compared with the 975,000 in September last year. The “figure did not reflect changes in relation to the previous month, so the rise has been maintained. This number had not been reached in the past five years,” the release reads.

Meanwhile, the labor-force participation rate in September stood at 40.5 percent, a 0.1% increase over August.

“It is the highest participation rate for the month of September in the last four years,” La Fortaleza said.

“We have had good labor market numbers in the indicators during the past months, which certainly is positive for our economy. It is encouraging to see a year-over-year increase of more than 30,000 Puerto Ricans working,” Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra Gutiérrez said.

Puerto Rico Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (File)

However, it “does not mean that our labor panorama is at its optimum level, since there are several sectors of the economy have yet to fully recover after the impact of the hurricanes last year. However, there are others, such as self-employment, that continue to rise. This confirms that the public policy strategies of this administration are showing good results.”

The official said that about 165,000 people were self-employed, “which reflected an increase of 4,000 people compared with the previous month.”

The non-farm employment survey, which is based on the payroll of commercial establishments, reflected about 854,600 salaried jobs in September, an increase of 1,700 compared with August.

“Another positive indicator is that, of the total of that increase in salaried positions, 1,500 occurred in the private sector,” the secretary added.

Regarding the recovery from last year’s hurricanes, Saavedra Gutiérrez stressed that there are 18,400 more salaried jobs since October last year, “although the numbers continue below those registered before the emergencies in September 2017.”

The industry sectors that registered more salaried positions compared with the previous month were: Trade, transportation and utilities, which rose by 1,200; manufacturing by 600; professional and business services by 300; government, 200; information services,100; and education and health Services by 100.

Meanwhile, the industry sector that reflected declines were: financial activities, which dropped by 300; leisure and hospitality, 200; other services–which comprises repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services, and membership associations and organizations–had 200 fewer people; and mining and Logging and construction decreased by 100.

“It should be noted that the labor force survey for September 2017 was not carried out due to hurricanes Irma and María. For this reason, the interannual comparison of total employment, unemployment and the unemployment rate of September 2018 versus 2017 are the results of a statistical interpolation process that the federal government carried out. In the case of the participation rate, the federal government did not interpolate the estimates, thus no annual comparison exists,” La Fortaleza said.

See the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ State Employment and Unemployment (Monthly) News Release here.

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