Economy

Economic Activity Index stays on positive ground in July

The Government Development Bank unveiled the Economic Activity Index (GDB-EAI) for the month of July, which settled at 127.3, reflecting a 0.5 percent year-over-year increase.

The Economic Activity Index is an economic tool that that summarizes the behavior of four major monthly economic indicators: cement sales, payroll employment, gasoline consumption and energy consumption.

Cement sales totaled 1.5 million bags, registering a year-over-year increase of 9.7 percent. Total sales for calendar year-to-date are 9.4 percent above same period calendar year 2011.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate decreased to 13.7 percent when compared to July 2011 when the jobless rate stood at 15.6 percent, the report released Thursday indicated. During the month of July, total household employment continued its upward trend totaling 1,089,500 in July 2012, a year-over-year increase of 2.6 percent.

Meanwhile, total non-farm payroll employment for July 2012 totaled 907,200, a 1.6 percentyear-over-year reduction, the report stated.

“The [EAI] shows that our economy is moving in the right direction for the first time in six years. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since January 2009, standing at 13.7 percent in July 2012,” GDB President Juan Carlos Batlle said.

“We’ve also noticed a steady growth in cement sales, which is a clear reflection of increased investment and economic activity in the construction industry that remained at a standstill for so long,” he said. “We remain steadfast on the right path toward a healthy and sustainable economic growth.”

Gasoline consumption for the month was 94.3 million gallons — representing a 32.8 percent year-over-year spike — while the average calendar year consumption through July is 86.3 million gallons.

The fourth component of the EAI is energy consumption, which totaled 1,954 million kWh for the month, reflecting a year-over-year increase of 1.2 percent. Total electric power generation for fiscal year 2012 ended 1.9 percent below fiscal year 2011, mainly due to high petroleum prices, the report showed.

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Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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