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Workers in Puerto Rico’s metro area make 43% less than US mainland peers

Workers in the San Juan-Carolina-Caguas, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $15.33 in May 2020, about 43% below the United States mainland average of $27.07, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Chief Regional Economist Martin Kohli said that after testing for statistical significance, all 22 major occupational groups had average wages in the local area that were significantly below their respective national averages, including office and administrative support, protective service, and food preparation and serving related.

When compared to the US mainland’s distribution, San Juan area employment was more highly concentrated in six of the 22 occupational groups, including protective service, office and administrative support, and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance.

Twelve groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including healthcare practitioners and technical, healthcare support, and computer and mathematical.

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey is a semiannual exercise measuring occupational employment and wage rates for workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The survey is a federal-state cooperative program between with state workforce agencies, in this case, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources.

One occupational group — transportation and material moving — was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. San Juan had 44,740 jobs in transportation and material moving, accounting for 7.2% of local area employment, significantly lower than the 8.7-% share of US mainland employment.

The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $11.70, significantly below the national wage of $19.08, the agency noted.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the transportation and material moving group included stockers and order fillers (12,820); laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand (6,840); and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (6,350).

Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were air traffic controllers and captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels, with mean hourly wages of $46.93 and $33.24, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians ($8.66) and parking attendants ($9.10).

Location quotients allow the BLS to explore the occupational make-up of a metropolitan area by comparing the composition of jobs in an area relative to the national average.

For example, a location quotient of 2.0 indicates that an occupation accounts for twice the share of employment in the area than it does nationally.

In the San Juan area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the transportation and material moving group. For instance, refuse and recyclable material collectors were employed at 2.3 times the US rate in San Juan, and parking attendants, at 1.7 times the national average.

First-line supervisors of transportation and material moving workers, except aircraft cargo handling supervisors, had a location quotient of 1.0 in San Juan, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.

The San Juan-Carolina-Caguas, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamón, Caguas, Canóvanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Comerio, Corozal, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Humacao, Juncos, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maunabo, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Rio Grande, San Juan, San Lorenzo, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, and Yabucoa.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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