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Puerto Rico’s jobless rate down to 13.7% in April as workforce shrinks

Labor Secretary-designate Vance Thomas (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

Labor Secretary-designate Vance Thomas (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate dropped to 13.7 percent in April, reaching the lowest level since 2008. However, Labor Department data released Thursday also shows that the island’s labor force decreased by 10,000 to 1.1 million last month, when compared to the prior month and by 31,000 year-over-year.

A drop in the labor force means there are fewer people available to work, either because they have given up looking for work, or have left the jurisdiction. The Labor Department’s report put Puerto Rico’s 16-and-over population at 2.9 million people last month, a reduction of 1,000 individuals when compared to March 2013 and of 18,000 when compared to April 2012.

But in a press release, Labor Secretary Vance Thomas said the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the month of April represented a decrease of 0.5 percentage points compared to March 2013, when it stood at 14.2 percent. The unemployment rate fell by 0.9 percentage points when ompared to March 2012’s 14.6 percent level.

Thomas added that during the first four months of the year, the decline in the unemployment rate is stabilizing, “providing optimism that they the right steps are being taken to continue reducing the number of unemployed people and further activate the Puerto Rican economy.”

“We’re very pleased with the results of this report with respect to unemployment, for April 2013, when the seasonally adjusted figure was 162,000 people. This represented a reduction of 7,000 unemployed people when compared with March 2013 figures of 169,000, and in relation to April 2012 (177,000), the number decreased by 15,000 people,” Thomas said, adding the current result is the lowest unemployment figure on record since 2008.

This year’s survey is for the agency’s statistical reports has been calibrated using as reference the Planning Board’s Population and Housing Census, as it is relying on new independent population checks by sex and age group to ensure their reliability.

Meanwhile, the report also shows a drop in the self-employed sector, which reported 156,000 participants in April 2013, representing a reduction of 5,000 when compared with March 2013 and of 9,000 when compared to April 2012.

Employment in the agricultural sector was 17,000 in April 2013, or 1,000 fewer workers when compared to March 2013, but an increase of 2,000 when compared to April 2013.

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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