February EAI slides 2.4%, as jobless rate hits 15%
The Puerto Rico government released key economic statistics late Friday that reflected a slide in the Economic Activity Index of 2.4 percent year-over-year in February, as well as put the island’s jobless rate at 15 percent that month.
While the Government Development Bank released the EIA, the Department of Labor and Human Services did the same with the jobless figures, publishing them after 5 p.m. and without much fanfare.
The GDB- EAI’s February results are the lowest since May 2013, the island’s economy remains in a freefall.
When broken down, the four key indicators that make up the GDB-EAI performed as follows:
- Total non-farm payroll employment for February 2014 averaged 929,200, an annual increase of 0.1 percent, while total non-farm payroll employment showed a 1.9 percent decrease so far this year when compared to the figure for the July-February period in 2013. In February, total private employment increased by 1.5 percent year-over-year (10,300 jobs), while total public employment dropped by 3.7 percent year-over-year (9,300 jobs).
- Electric power generation for February 2014 totaled 1,528.0 million kWh, an annual decrease of 2.2 percent. Electricity generation for the July-February period was 3.6 percent less than during the same period last year.
- The preliminary number for gasoline consumption in February 2014 was 80.5 million gallons, 6.4 percent below February 2013. The gasoline consumption number so far this fiscal year was 3.1 percent below the corresponding figure for 2013
- February cement sales totaled 1.27 million bags, registering an annual reduction of 12.7 percent. Sales for the July-February period were 15.6 percent below the figure for the same period last year.
In the report, the GDB said its Economic Analysis Division is testing different seasonal adjustment procedures, which will be implemented in the April 2014 release, “to further reduce the volatility of the Index.”
“The change in the current seasonal adjustment procedure would allow more reasonable month-over-month comparisons for the monthly observations of the index,” the GDB said.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate for February reached 15 percent, up 0.5 percentage points from the 14.5 percent on record for the same month last year. The most recent figure reflects a minor improvement from the 15.2 percent rate reported in January 2014.
“For February, the unemployment rate in Puerto Rico was at 15.0 percent, falling for the second consecutive month since December 2013, when the figure was 15.4 percent,” Labor Secretary Vance Thomas said. “So the island has experienced a reduction in the unemployment rate for the first two months of 2014.”
The participation rate in February was 40.7 percent, representing a 0.4 percentage point drop when compared to January and a 0.5 percentage point drop when bumped up against the February 2013 results (41.2 percent).