Puerto Rico economic activity declines for second straight month

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Puerto Rico’s economic activity index fell for the second straight month in October as three of its four components declined.

Non-farm payroll employment slipped 0.5% in October from September, electric power generation slid 4.8%, and cement sales dropped 9.2%, as the overall index declined 0.8%, according to data released Wednesday by the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico.

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, index values plunged through November 2017, then climbed on a month-to-month basis for eight consecutive months. The August value was equal to that of July. The index values declined 0.4% in September from August.

The index is the primary measure of recent economic activity on the island as the gross national product figures are only released once a year and with a several month delay.

The direction of economic activity may affect the terms of the Puerto Rico bond restructurings currently being considered in Title III court, soon to be considered in the court, or in discussions with bondholders outside of the Title III process.

The economic activity index was up 15.5% from October 2017, when the island was digging out after Hurricane Maria.

Gasoline consumption rose 1.7% in October from September. However, the Economic Development Bank, which compiles the index, measures this by comparing August through October to July through September.

The index has fallen about 23.8% from its all-time high in early 2005 and about 17.5% from October 2008.

According to the population survey of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Puerto Rico’s October employment fell 0.2% from September. Employment was up 3.3% from October 2017 and 1.1% from October 2013. It has fallen 16.3% from October 2008.

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PROMESA Economic indicators Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp (COFINA) Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Puerto Rico Infrastructure Financial Authority Puerto Rico Highway & Transportation Authority Puerto Rico