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,”
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.