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Statistics Institute wants public input on worker survey

Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi-Santiago.

Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi-Santiago.

The Puerto Rico Statistics Institute announced Monday plans to use a new method to collect information on households to measure unemployment in Puerto Rico. The process will be integrated into the Department of Labor and Human Resources Work Group Survey, conducted since 1947.

The agency also invited the public to submit comments and/or recommendations related to the survey that must be updated every 10 years to temper its methodology to the results of the most recent population and housing Census.

The Work Group Survey produces key statistics on Puerto Rico’s labor market, including the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate. This monthly survey requires a large and complex central coordination to choose homes throughout Puerto Rico to visit to conduct interviews.

As part of the Statistics Institute’s review, it will consider all the elements of the methodology, including the interview/questionnaire used to collect information on households, Statistics Institute Executive Director Mario Marazzi-Santiago said.

The proposed changes seek several objectives: 1) to define the questions so they are asked consistently, 2) meet the standards of the International Labor Organization, 3) conduct a better control of fieldwork, 4) make more cost-effective use of resources 5) update the technology used to gather information and, 6) ensure the usefulness, relevance and validity of the statistics of the survey in accordance with the needs of the Puerto Rican people and the requirements of the modern economy, he said.

Through an inter-agency agreement, the Department of Labor and Human Resources also has the duty to ensure that the survey results be tempered with the rules of the Current Population Survey, which is the federal counterpart of the survey conducted by the U.S, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Citizen participation in the design of statistical methodologies is essential to ensure that statistics are useful, relevant and reliable. We’re very excited to receive comments from various professional and business entities to ensure their recommendations and any concerns are addressed before implementing the new [survey],” Marazzi-Santiago said.

As part of the process, the agency is proposing the following changes to the survey:

  1. Specify survey questions in the interview to ensure consistent data collection;
  2. Add questions about minimum wage;
  3. Incorporate questions of the supplemental questionnaire on participation in labor unions explicitly in the interview that is conducted every month at certain households in the sample;
  4. Eliminate questions about who earns more at home, the so-called “head of household;”
  5. Eliminate questions about the name of the business and farms run by the household;
  6. Eliminate questions about wages earned by every person in every job;
  7. Redefine “part time” for statistical purposes from 35 hours to 30 hours; and,.
  8. Simplify the industry coding so that it refers only to the main industrial group, eliminating subsectors.

The public may submit comments via regular mail, email, or through the Statistic Institute’s website.

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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