Puerto Rico employment rose for the sixth consecutive month in March, raising hope that economy may be on the upswing.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the month-to-month change in the household survey data they released Tuesday.

Employment was up 0.3% month-to-month and 1.6% year-over-year, according to this data. Total employment was the highest it has been since April 2013.

The unemployment rate increased to 11.8% in March from 11.6% in February, as previously discouraged workers started looking for jobs. All the data is seasonally adjusted.

Puerto Rico's economy has been weak since the start of 2006, contributing to downgrades of its bond ratings to non-investment grade in early 2014.

Outside of the February unemployment rate, the March rate was the lowest since it hit an equal level in July 2008. At 11.8% unemployment has fallen 2.4 percentage points from the March 2014 rate and 5.1 percentage points from the peak recent recession rates of April and May 2010.

The bureau also released statistics from its survey of employers that showed employment has increased on a month-to-month basis for eight out of the last nine months, including in March.

According to the employer survey, total private sector employment was up 0.4% to March from February and down a negligible 0.03% to March from March 2014.

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