PR jobless rate falls to 13.8% in June
The June jobless rate was down sharply from the 15.7 percent registered in the same month last year. It was 14.2 percent in May.
The June number marks the first time Puerto Rico’s unemployment has been below 14 percent since January 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS).
Still, Puerto Rico’s job scene remains cloudy as the run of unemployment rate decreases is due in large part to the exit of frustrated job-seekers who drop efforts to find work. [The unemployment numbers are based on people who are working and/or people actively seeking work who report to the island Labor Department seeking work or to get unemployment benefits.] All others seeking work who do not report to the Labor Department are not counted in the unemployment rate.
The labor-participation rate was just 39.6 percent in May, down from 40.2 percent a year ago. The island’s labor-participation rate at the onset of the recession in 2006 was above 47 percent, but has been trending lower and trails far behind the U.S. average, which tops 65 percent. [The Puerto Rico Labor Department has not yet released its May employment report, which includes labor participation data.]
The BLS report on Friday pegged Puerto Rico’s civilian labor force at 1.26 million in June, down from 1.268 million during the same month last year. It was also at 1.268 million in May.
The number of people on Puerto Rico’s unemployment rolls was 173,700 in June, down from 199,600 last year. There were roughly 180,400 people receiving jobless benefits in May.
BLS data shows that Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate has fallen every month since April 2011, and has posted a sustained decrease on a same-month comparison since March 2010. The jobless rate in June 2006, when Puerto Rico’s long recession was still taking root, was 10.7 percent.
Puerto Rico’s dismal jobs scene remains an issue of serious concern despite signs the island may finally be pulling out of its long economic doldrums, New York Federal Reserve President William C. Dudley said during an address to the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce convention last month.
“High unemployment and low labor-force participation remain perhaps the biggest challenges to the Puerto Rico economy,” said Dudley, noting that even in relatively prosperous times, the unemployment rate on the island has been more than double the rate of the U.S. mainland.
Total employment fell by about 13 percent, or roughly 140,000 jobs, between its peak in 2005 and mid-2010. This is nearly double the 7 percent job loss on the mainland U.S. For the past two years, employment has appeared to have bottomed out, but there has been little evidence of recovery, Dudley said.
“The island’s unemployment rate has fallen by more than a percentage point over the past year, but this isn’t necessarily good news,” he said. “The fall was largely the result of a fall in labor-force participation.”
Unemployment rates rose in 27 US states in June
Unemployment rates rose in 27 U.S. states last month, the most in almost a year and a reflection of weaker hiring nationwide.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates fell in 11 states and Washington, D.C. — the fewest since August. Rates were unchanged in 12 states.
Nationwide, employers added only 80,000 jobs last month, the third straight month of weak job growth. The national unemployment rate stayed at 8.2 percent.
Still, 29 states added jobs in June, up from 27 in May. Unemployment rates can rise even if more jobs are created if more of those out of work start looking for work. The number of Americans searching for jobs nationwide increased last month.
Nevada recorded the highest unemployment rate, at 11.6 percent, followed by Rhode Island, with 10.9 percent.