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P.R. jobless rate at 8.3% in December, 15K jobs added YOY

The Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources announced that the island’s unemployment rate stood at 8.3 percent in December 2018, reflecting a decrease of 2.7 percent versus December 2017.

Labor Secretary Carlos Saavedra further said the workforce participation rate rose to 40.8 percent in December, while 15,000 more jobs were reported in comparison to the same month last year, when a significant portion of Puerto Rico was still without power and many businesses remained shuttered in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane María. That may account for the year-over-year job increase, according to several experts.

According to the latest surveys published by Labor Department and certified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-agricultural wage employment — which is performed based on payroll data — was estimated at 853,100 people for December 2018. This represents about 6,700 jobs more than in the same month last year and 2,400 more than in the previous month, the agency stated.

It is the first time in seven years that a full quarter — October, November and December — presents an annual increase in non-agricultural wage employment, Saavedra said.

On the other hand, private-sector salaried employment was estimated at 645,400, about 1,700 more than in November 2018 and 10,600 more jobs than in the same month last year.

“We ended 2018 with a group of interannual positive indicators that confirm a good pace toward recovery and the strengthening of our workforce and economic sustainability,” Saavedra said.

Although the participation rate increased from month to month and year-over-year, Saavedra acknowledged “it is not an acceptable figure and the challenge to create economic and labor conditions necessary to raise it still stands,” he said.

In December 2018, the participation rate was estimated at 40.8 percent, reflecting an increase of 0.7 percent when compared to November 2018 and 0.1 percent compared to the same month last year, the survey shows.

On the other hand, the Labor Group survey showed 990,000 people working last month, representing about 15,000 more workers when compared to the 975,000 people employed in the same month of 2017 and 8,000 fewer than in November 2018.

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