Puerto Rico employment rises above 1 million for first time in six years


Puerto Rico’s employment rose above a million for the first time in six years in August.

The August level of employment of 1,003,320 was up 0.6% from July and 0.8% from August 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey released Friday. The number of people employed rose 3.6% from August 2014.

The figure may give encouragement to some bondholders that the island’s economy is prospering and may support their bonds in the long-term.

The unemployment rate declined to 7.7% in August from 8.1% in July. The rate was 8.5% in August 2018 and 14% in August 2014. The 7.7% figure is the lowest monthly figure since the federal government started compiling monthly figures for Puerto Rico in the 1940s.

The bureau also compiles employment figures for the island based on a survey of employers. The survey only looks at non-farm employment and excludes self-employment. It shows a mixed picture.

The island’s total non-farm employment in August was 872,500. This was down 0.1% from July, up 0.7% since August 2018, and down 0.4% since August 2014.

Private sector non-farm employment in August was down 0.1% from July, up 1.5% from August 2018, and down 0.1% from August 2014.

All the numbers in this story are based on seasonally adjusted data.

The most recently released Puerto Rico Economic Activity Index value, the one for July, was down 1% from July 2018, the second consecutive month of year-over-year declines. However, it was up 0.1% from the June 2019 figure.

The Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico releases the Economic Activity Index figures.

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