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Seilhamer Says Migration is Main Cause of Unemployment Drop

By on March 15, 2016

SAN JUAN—The minority leader in the Senate for the New Progressive Party (NPP), Larry Seilhamer, said Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate has dropped due to the high number of residents leaving the island, which in turn has reduced the number of people working in the U.S. territory.

During his remarks Tuesday, Seilhamer cited the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, which show that from December 2012 to January 2016, a total of 47,199 workers have left the island’s labor force. In one month alone, from December 2015 to January 2016, the same report said there were 6,006 people less on Puerto Rico’s labor force.

“The significant reduction in the labor force is compatible with the massive migration taking place in Puerto Rico,” Seilhamer said, noting that unemployment figures do not represent a precise indicator showing there are more people working on the island.

“This also corresponds to demographic statistics showing that during 2014, about 83,000 people left the island, and that during the first six months of 2015, about 72,000 people have left,” Seilhamer added. “These are alarming numbers and they represent an economic development crisis in Puerto Rico that does not allow any job creation.”

While the latest statistics show there 34,453 fewer people unemployed compared with December 2012, “we cannot forget there are also 12,746 fewer jobs, which means a reduction in the working population has taken place, not job creation.”

He added that the lower unemployment numbers are not a cause for celebration. “The reality is that the outgoing and incoming government administrations must have a clear focus on economic development,” Seilhamer went on to say. “The debt restructuring and the fiscal control board are necessary, but must go hand in hand with an economic development plan in the short, medium and long term. It is the only way we can guarantee the creation of jobs and thus reduce the massive emigration of Puerto Ricans.”

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