|Gas consumption in February, when prices were still under .90 cents a
liter, showed an increase.
Puerto Rico’s Economic Activity Index for February showed the first month-over-month increase, of 0.4 percent in comparison to January, since October 2010, the Government Development Bank said Sunday.
However, when compared with February 2010, the GDB-EAI showed a decrease of 1.8 percent, the lowest annual reduction since September 2007, the GDB said.
“What these statistics mean is that the economy has slowed its fall compared to last year and is beginning to rise,” said GDB President Juan Carlos Batlle.
Of the four indicators that make up the GDB-EAI — employment, cement sales, electricity consumption and fuel consumption — three showed an increase in February compared to the same month last year, the agency noted. The GDB-EAI is a report published monthly that explains the current status of the economy.
In February, there were 917,700 salaried workers, an increase of 5,300 jobs compared with the previous month. Although that number still represents a decrease of 1.6 percent compared with February 2010, is the smallest annual decrease in this indicator since December 2008. Within employment, however, the service sector continues to grow, having added 6,800 jobs in February 2010 to February 2011, an increase of 2.3 percent.
Cement sales in February reached 1.6 million bags, up 5.2 percent compared with the same month last year. This is the second largest increase on-year since April 2008, the index showed. Cement sales are a key economic indicator, as it reflects activity in real estate development. That indicator has been dropping or stagnating consistently in the past two or three years.
Electricity consumption also reflected an increase, despite the rise in the cost of oil. In February there was a consumption of 1.391 kWh, an increase of 2 percent compared with February last year, the first annual increase in electricity consumption since June 2010, the index showed.
Gasoline consumption also increased in February, when 84.7 million gallons were consumed, 13.7 percent more than in the same month last year.
“The February 2011 GDB-EAI shows that Puerto Rico is in a period of economic stabilization. Despite the significantly higher prices of oil, we see a rise in consumption of electricity and gasoline, which shows an upward movement in economic activity. In addition, we note that the loss of jobs has declined, and in some sectors, such as the service sector, there has indeed been an increase in salaried employment,” said Batlle.
The GDB’s index findings are in line with the comments made Friday by Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley, who said the island is showing signs of economic improvement, en route to a possible end of the recession.
“Since mid-2010 there have been promising signs: Recently released revisions suggest that job growth on the island, while still very weak, improved modestly since last summer. And most of the weakness since then has not been broad-based, but instead concentrated in construction and manufacturing,” said Dudley in a presentation during the E-3 Summit of the Americas conference in San Juan.
Meanwhile, Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Jose Pérez-Riera said the positive trend is not only evident in the GDB-EAI, “but also in other indicators such as auto sales, retail sales, an upturn in the tourism industry, among others, to reconfirm that our economy is in the process recovery.”
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