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GDB: Economic activity index ‘gaining ground’ in ’12

From left: Edward Calvesbert, deputy secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, José Otero, executive vice president of financing for the GDB and GDB President Juan Carlos Batlle speak to reporters Tuesday.

The Government Development Bank unveiled the Economic Activity Index for the months of January and February, which reflected an increase of 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively in comparison to the same months in 2011.

The EAI for the first two months of this year was reworked in response to the annual review conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, GDB President Juan Carlos Batlle said, noting the publication includes changes to employment data for the last 10 years to reflect the BLS changes.

“The review conducted by the BLS resulted in some changes, downward and upward, in the historic levels of the EAI,” Batlle said. “However, this revision had no impact on the trend that we continue seeing in the EAI measurements, which clearly show an ongoing positive trend in our economy’s behavior.”

The EAI for February stood at 128.7, reflecting the increase and upholding the three-month roll of positive results in comparison to the same period last year, he said. January 2012’s EAI stood at 128.2, up 0.5 percent compared with January 2011 when it stood at 127.6.

The GDB’s index takes into consideration several key sectors whose activity reflects the state of the economy. Cement sales, for example, continued reflecting growth in February, when 1.8 million bags were sold representing a 10.1 percent jump from the same month in 2011. Total cement sales during fiscal year 2012 reflect a 6.4 percent year-over-year growth.

January’s numbers put sales at a total of 1.6 million bags, up 10.5 percent compared with the same period last year. Total sales for fiscal 2012 reflected an increase of 5.8 percent over the same period of fiscal 2011.

Meanwhile, nonfarm wage employment included 921,300 people in February, up 0.4% compared with February 2011 and the fourth month showing an increase since March 2006, he said. January’s total was 917,300 people, reflecting a 0.4 percent increase over the same month in 2011.

Gasoline consumption in February reached 98.5 million gallons. January’s gas consumption was 86.3 million gallons. The monthly average for calendar year 2011 was 87.2 million gallons, he said.

The only component that showed a decline in February 2012 was electricity consumption, which reached nearly 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours, reflecting a decrease of 6.7 percent compared with February 2011. During FY 2012, total consumption has been 2.6 percent below the same period in fiscal 2011.

Meanwhile, January’s total reached 1406.9 million kWh, an increase of 1.9 percent over the same period in 2011. Total power consumption during fiscal 2012 through January stood 2.0 percent below the consumption registered for the same period in fiscal 2011, he said.

“We’ve seen how since December 2011, the EAI’s levels put it outside negative territory,” Batlle said. “The EAI’s behavior reaffirms that the measures we’ve taken, in fiscal responsibility and controls as well as the steps to reactivate our economy, are bearing fruit,” said Batlle of the results of the EAI, which has a high correlation with Puerto Rico’s Gross National Product.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 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 segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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