Employment in Puerto Rico continued to decrease in September and October, according to a Federal report released today.
The U.S. Department of Labor statistics contradicted a territorial report issued yesterday to reassure purchasers of Puerto Rico bonds, who have been concerned about the continuing worsening of the Commonwealth economy.
The Puerto Rico Government Development Bank’s economic growth plan — which was really a list of goals — suggested that jobs in the territory had increased 25,000 since the beginning of January. The document from the administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla (“Commonwealth”) sought to be consistent with Garcia’s campaign promise that his election would mean 50,000 more jobs in 18 months.
In reality, Puerto Rico lost 17,115 jobs from the time that Garcia took office through the end of October, according to the Federal report. So, 67,115 more jobs would be needed by next June 30th to fulfill the Governor’s pledge — which his administration continues to make.
In a poll earlier this month, 78% of a representative sample of Puerto Rican voters doubted that Garcia will meet his commitment.
The Governor reacted to the Federal job loss numbers by outlining investments that are creating jobs and by disputing a reporter’s questions about jobs lost.
The Commonwealth has lost 230,000 jobs since 2004, and one-fifth of all jobs that it had in April 2006.
The loss since August spiked the territorial unemployment rate to 14.7% from 13.9%. The number of people looking for work but unable to find it rose from 164,589 to 174,396.
By contrast, the State with the highest jobless rate, Nevada, had 9.3% of workers seeking employment, according to the Federal labor statistics.
Puerto Rico’s economy has been in recession for seven and a half years, except for 11 months beginning in December 2011, when the economy expanded .1%. The gap between lower incomes in the Commonwealth and higher incomes in the States has grown during the past third of a century.
The Commonwealth economy has suffered due to U.S. free trade agreements, costs of the oil the territory uses to generate most of its electricity that have skyrocketed, far less than equal funding in key Federal programs, a low amount of purchasing in Puerto Rico by the Federal government, and Puerto Ricans seeking the opportunities of statehood by moving to the States lowering the population 160,000 during the past seven years.