The Government Development Bank’s Economic Activity Index for the month of April reached 128.2 during April 2012, an increase of 0.1 percent when compared to April 2011 and the fifth consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth since recession began in 2006, the agency said Wednesday.
A drop in Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate and year-over-year increase in cement sales were responsible for driving the month’s results, the report noted. Those two sectors, coupled with gasoline consumption and generation of electricity, are used to calculate the GDB-EAI, as together they show a high correlation with economic performance.
“We continue moving in the right direction, confirming that for the first time since 2006, the EAI has remained in positive territory for several consecutive months,” said GDB President Juan Carlos Batlle. “We see how the behavior of the economy continues going in the right direction, although we recognize that we still have work to do and therefore it becomes important to maintain the continuity in the actions we have been taking since 2009.”
As previously reported, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate decreased to 14.8 percent in April 2012 when compared to April 2011 when the unemployment rate was at 16.1 percent. Total non-farm payroll employment for April 2012 totaled 917,400, a year-over-year reduction of 0.7 percent.
Meanwhile, cement sales totaled 1.654 million bags, registering a year-over-year increase of 2.1 percent. Total cement sales year-to-date for fiscal year 2012 are 4.9 percent above the same period in fiscal year 2011.
Gasoline consumption was 87.8 million gallons, a 13.0 percent year-over-year increase when compared to April 2011. In its report, the GDB noted that the Treasury Department’s monthly gasoline excise tax collections are used to estimate monthly gasoline consumption.
“These monthly collections tend to have irregular patterns as major gasoline importers have significant fluctuations in their inventories and purchases,” the GDB report said. “As a result, the estimate used by GDB does not necessarily reflect actual monthly consumption by individuals.”
Finally, electric power generation totaled 1,766.8 million kWh, reflecting a year-over-year reduction of 1.5 percent. So far this fiscal year, total electric power generation is 2.6 percent below the same period in fiscal year 2011.
During the month of April 2012, the GDB-EAI was revised to substitute electric power consumption for electric power generation.
“This change is due to the more timely availability of data, increased reliability that is subject to fewer and smaller revisions, and a slightly higher correlation of electric power generation with Puerto Rico’s GNP,” the report stated. “The electric generation variable has been substituted throughout the historical series of the index to maintain consistency.”
The GDB-EAI is a report published monthly that explains the current status of the economy.