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Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate at 5.8% in May

The labor-force participation rate was estimated at 44%.

Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate remained at 5.8%, marking 29 consecutive months with a rate of 6.5% or less, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, disclosed.

Meanwhile, nonfarm payroll employment continues to rise, reflecting the highest level of employment in the last 15 years, the local agency stated.

“Once again, we reveal an encouraging picture of our economy, seen through the lens of the labor market. Some industrial sectors, such as recreation and accommodation and services related to education and health, are at their highest points in history,” said Labor Secretary Gabriel Maldonado-González.

“Others, such as manufacturing, construction, financial activities and commerce, transportation and utilities, are reflecting the highest numbers in over a decade. At the same time, the labor [-force] participation rate is stable and at its highest point in a long time, while the unemployment rate remains at historically low levels,” he said.

According to the employment and unemployment data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is based on the Worker Group Survey, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Puerto Rico was 5.8% in May, a reduction of 3.2 percentage points compared to January 2021. However, this represents an increase of 2.1 percentage points compared to January 2024.

It represented no change compared to April, while it represented a decrease of 0.4 percentage point when compared to May 2023.

“The current unemployment rate continues to be one of the lowest in our history,” Maldonado-González said.

Meanwhile, the labor-force participation rate, not seasonally adjusted, for May was estimated at 44%, which is 3.6 percentage points more than in January 2021. It represents an increase of 0.1 percentage points compared to the previous month and 1.3 percentage points compared to May 2023. The current figure is among the highest labor-force participation rates that Puerto Rico has had since 2009, the local agency noted.

For May, the estimate of the working group, seasonally adjusted, was 1,207,000, equivalent to 89,000 additional people when compared to January 2021. The new figure represents 4,000 fewer people compared to the previous month but added 32,000 people compared to the previous year.

“It is one of the highest numbers of people in the workforce since 2012,” the Labor Department stated.

Total employment, seasonally adjusted, was set at 1,136,000 in May, for an increase of 118,000 jobs compared to January 2021 and one of the highest totals in the last 15 years. The figure decreased by 4,000 people compared to the previous month but represents 33,000 more than those reported in May 2023.

Total employment includes self-employed workers, which were estimated at 195,000 for May, according to data not seasonally adjusted, continuing the upward trend of people who decided to start a business in recent years.

Regarding unemployed people, seasonally adjusted, the monthly statistics reflected 70,000 people for May, or 30,000 fewer than those reported in January 2021.

This figure decreased at a rate of 1,000 people compared to the previous month and by 2,000 people when compared to May 2023.

Preliminary, seasonally adjusted results from the monthly nonfarm payroll employment survey reflected a total of 959,300 salaried jobs in May, which is an additional 108,200 than reported in January 2021.

“This is the highest wage employment total since 2009. The new figure constitutes an increase of 700 jobs when compared to April 2024, while it reflected an increase of 17,300 salaried jobs compared to May 2023,” the Labor Department concluded.

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