Puerto Rico economic activity declined 7% in April

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Puerto Rico’s Economic Activity Index was down 7% in April from a year earlier.

The index result is one of the only indicators for April currently available for the economic impact of COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown on the island’s economy.

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez locked down much of the island in mid-March and has since allowed most of it to open with conditions.

The Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico released the index values for January through April on Friday evening.

On a year-over-year basis the index went up 0.5% in January, up 0.5% in February, down 2.6% in March, and down 7% in April. On month-to-month bases the index declined 0.6% in January, 0.2% in February, 2.6% in March, and 4.7% in April.

Also on Friday the EDB announced it had revised upward its estimate for fiscal 2019, which ran from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. Based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revision, the EDB estimated the island experienced growth of 1.9% rather than 1.6%.

The U.S. bureau had estimated the payroll employment as having grown 0.9%. After the revision it estimated this as having expanded 1.4%.

On March 15 in response to the spread of the virus to the island, Gov. Wanda Vázquez ordered most business and government functions closed and people outside of those functions to stay home outside of going to grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors, and banks.

Since the governor-ordered lockdown, the governor has allowed some loosening of restrictions. As of June 16 nearly all businesses have been allowed to operate with restrictions. She has also allowed the conditional resumption of outdoor recreation.

All four of the index’s constituent economic measures were down in April from a year earlier. Total non-farm payroll employment dropped 10.3%. Electric power generation dipped 4.8%. Gasoline consumption contracted 15.9%. Finally, cement sales plunged 53.8%.

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