Puerto Rico jobless rate pegged at 14.6% in Jan.

Written by  //  March 19, 2013  //  Labor/HR  //  No comments

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Labor Secretary-designate Vance Thomas (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

Labor Secretary-designate Vance Thomas (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

Puerto Rico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January was 14.6 percent, representing a drop of 0.7 percentage points when compared to the same month last year, when it stood at 15.3 percent, Labor Secretary-designate Vance Thomas said Monday.

The report shows that the seasonally adjusted unemployment for January 2013 was 177,000, representing a decrease of 11,000 people compared with January 2012, when the number of jobless people were 188,000.

When compared month-over-month, the most recent results reflect a slight increase from the 14.4 percent jobless rate reported in December 2012. The number of uneployed people also jumped by 4,000 month-to-month.

Rather coincidentally, the number of self-employed people also increased by 4,000 from December 2012 to January 2013, and by the same amount when compared to January 2012, the report showed.

Thomas said the first survey of the year was modified using the Planning Board’s Population and Housing Census as reference. The report also incorporated new independent population controls by sex and age group to ensure reliability.

“As we promised the first day of our appointment, we will tell the truth about the employment situation and continue joining efforts to improve and contribute to the creation of new jobs and improve the quality of life of our people,” Thomas said.

Statistics Institute playing bigger role
The figures are the first released after Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla signed an executive order requiring agencies to consistently submit all of their reports to the Puerto Rico Statistics Institute, so they can be incorporated into the government’s statistics bank.

Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi-Santiago.

Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi

The order, said Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi, is a “historic milestone for the people who have been working for a long time in favor of transparency of statistics in Puerto Rico.”

For this report, the Institute revised the methodology used for the findings, to comply with recommendations by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Marazzi said.

For the first time since this survey was first conducted in 1940, the results will be weighted using estimates and projections of Puerto Rico’s population that are disaggregated by age cohort and gender demographics, known as independent population controls. So far, the results of this survey were presented unweighted, he said.

In addition, controls independent of the population are consistent for the first time with the results of the 2010 Census and annual population estimates prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau, as of the 2010 Census.

As a result of this methodological review, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate increased by two-tenths of a percent every month since 2006, the workforce participation rate increased by as much as two percentage points during the same period, while number of employed and unemployed people was reviewed through 2000.

In December 2012, the number of people employed fell by 58,000 and the number of unemployed also fell, but only 5,000 people, the Institute noted.

“This represents a significant change in itself and at the same time is just one step in the process to complete the methodological review of the Labor Force Survey that is required every 10 years to incorporate the results of the Population and Housing Census, which must be completed by next year,” Marazzi said.

On the other hand, he said “it is noteworthy how the Labor Participation Rate never dropped below 40 percent, as hinted last year. In fact, had it actually happened, Puerto Rico would have been the only country in the world with this distinction, worse than in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Bosnia and Palestine.”

The next unemployment report will be published March 29, and every third Friday thereafter, he said.

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