Puerto Rico employment slips for second straight month

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Puerto Rico employment declined in November for the second consecutive month, adding to signs that the post-hurricane economic recovery may be ending.

November employment slipped 0.23% from October and 0.95% from September, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey released Friday.

The bureau also released an employment survey based on the responses of employers. This showed that non-farm employment decreased in November from October, after it had increased by a smaller amount in October from September. The November figure was down 0.34% from the September figure.

The employer-based employment survey showed private sector employment down in November by 0.26% from September.

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These employment figures echo the movement of the economic activity index over the most recently reported months. After the index went up every month on a month-to-month basis after November 2017, the index was unchanged in July and declined in each of the last two reported months, September and October.

Over the last two years the household and employer surveys tell different stories about Puerto Rico’s employment. Both show that November’s employment figure was up from November 2017, which is not surprising because of the tremendous impact of the September 2017 hurricanes. However, the household survey shows employment up by 1.9% in November from November 2016 and the employer survey shows employment down by 4.7% in the same period.

The employer survey showed that the island’s unemployment rate declined to 7.7% in November from 8% in October and 12.1% in November 2016. However, this was due to the number of people seeking work declining faster than the employed number declined. Some may have left the island and others simply may have ceased to seek work.

All data in this story has been seasonally adjusted.

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