Puerto Rico employment reaches highest level in nearly five years

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Puerto Rico’s employment level was the highest in nearly five years in June, according to the federal government’s household survey.

Total employment was 995,767, the highest since October 2013.
The island’s unemployment rate declined to 9.3%, the lowest monthly rate since at least 1975. According to Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor and Human Resources, the island’s annual unemployment rate hasn’t been that low since at least 1941.

The household survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the number of unemployed fell 10.2% since June 2017.

The bureau also presents data based on a survey of non-farm employers. The results of this survey painted a considerably less positive picture. Total non-farm employment in June dropped 3.5% from a year earlier, though it was up 1.9% from the post-Hurricane Maria low in October 2017.

According to this survey of non-farm employers, private sector employment declined 3.4% in June from a year earlier.

Heidi Calero, president of H. Calero Consulting Group, said the Puerto Rican economy was strengthening at least partly due to federal disaster relief. The distribution of relief is moving slowly, she said.

Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor and Human Resources said that Puerto Rico’s labor participation rate had increased to 41.1% from 39.3% in June 2017. Calero said this was an important sign of a strengthening economy as people were looking for jobs.

All data in this story has been seasonally adjusted.

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