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Puerto Rico maintains record-low unemployment rate in 2023

Puerto Rico’s Labor and Human Resources Department, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported that the unemployment rate on the island held steady at 5.7% in December. This matches the record set the previous month and marks 24 consecutive months with a rate of 6.5% or lower. 

Labor Secretary Gabriel Maldonado-González said: “The year 2023 was a historic one for the Puerto Rican labor market, the result of an increase in economic activity and concrete strategies to integrate more people into the workforce. We are talking about the year with the lowest unemployment rates in our history, both on a monthly level and in terms of annual average, as well as the year with the highest employment levels in recreation and lodging, professional and business services, and education and health services. 

“These positive trends have been maintained for an extended period and can be confirmed through the various reports and publications issued by our agency in collaboration with the federal government. This new year, we will continue working hand in hand with other government agencies, the private sector and nonprofit organizations to continue maximizing initiatives such as the new Employment and Recruitment Portal to Facilitate Labor Integration [Perfil, in Spanish], the ‘Puerto Rico Está Faja’o’ campaign, and ‘Talento Infinito.’”

Employment and unemployment
According to the Employment and Unemployment publication, which is based on the Labor Force Survey, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 5.7%. It showed no changes compared to November but was down 0.3 percentage points from December 2022. The annual average unemployment rate for 2023 was 5.9%.

The labor force participation rate for December 2023 was estimated at 44.6%, a 0.4 percentage point decrease from the previous month and 0.1 percentage point decrease from December 2022. The average labor force participation for 2023 was 43.8%, the highest annual average since 2009.

The estimated labor force for December 2023 was 1,211,000, seasonally adjusted, which is 4,000 more than the previous month and 22,000 more than the previous year. The annual average for 2023 was 1,194,000, the highest since 2012.

Total employment for December was seasonally adjusted at 1,142,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous month and 25,000 from December 2022. The average total employment for 2023 was 1,123,000, the highest annual average since 2008, including self-employed workers, which were estimated at 198,000 for December 2023.

The number of unemployed individuals in December 2023 stood at 69,000, the same as November and 3,000 fewer than in December 2022. The average number of unemployed individuals during 2023 was 71,000, “the lowest in our history,” according to the Labor Department.

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