With a lower labor participation rate and fewer people looking for work, the number of unemployed workers projected by the Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH) showed an unemployment of 7.3% in July, a figure below the 8.8% reported in February, the month before the economy closed due to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).
However, the DTRH —in its Employment and Unemployment in Puerto Rico report for July 2020, and whose data monthly figures have not been registered since February in the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics — it warns that if those workers who have a job but not working were counted in the category of unemployed, the unemployment percentage would have doubled and a little more.
“If workers who had a job but were not working were classified as unemployed, the unemployment rate would have been higher than reported. Using historical data, an analysis of this context would place the unemployment rate in July 2020 at 16.6% ", details the DTRH in its most recent report.
The subgroup of people with employment but not working corresponds to those who have a job. but in the reference week of the worker group survey “they did not work for at least one hour, for different reasons.”
“In July 2020, according to data not seasonally adjusted, 151,000 workers were classified as not working. This figure represented a reduction of 31,000 people when compared to June 2020 (182,000) ”, described the DTRH, adding that, however,“ this figure is significantly higher than the estimate of July 2019 (57,000) ”.
This category includes people who, due to the pandemic, saw their working hours reduced or their work centers were unable to open, but were not laid off.
Employment and unemployment data at the end of February 2020 – unadjusted seasonally – indicate that 15 days before the first executive order of Governor Wanda Vázquez came into force for the Covid-19 pandemic and that it meant a broad shutdown of the economy, the workforce on the Island was 1,048,791 people, the total of employees stood at 956,078 workers and the unemployed reached 92,713, for a rate of 8.8%.
In the new DTRH report for July, the labor force was 1,042,000, the non-seasonally adjusted employment was 966.0 00 and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% (76,000). “In relation to July 2019 (1,019,000) the total number of employed persons decreased by 53,000”, the report abounds for the month of July of this year.
The non-seasonally adjusted participation rate was 40.3% in July and the Last year to the same date it was 41.9%.
Jurisdiction with the most claims
According to data from the United States Department of Labor – until August 1 – Puerto Rico is one of the jurisdictions with the highest rate of insured unemployment claims (21.7%). That includes unemployment benefit and special pandemic assistance, which covers expanded benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
Some 448,000 PUA claims had been filed as of 1st of August, according to numbers from the federal agency, with another 24,974 a week that ended on August 15.
When estimating the figures offered by the DTRH and that the agency itself recognizes in its report, it is necessary to take Consider the classification of what a person is employed or not. According to the DTRH, “it is important to point out that according to the study methodology (employment and unemployment) those who have reported having worked in the reference week that includes at least one hour on the 12th of the month are classified as employees. This explains why in the survey the classification of these people did not directly impact the unemployment rate. ”
Rise in self-employed persons
When looking at the data corresponding to employment in the agricultural sector – not seasonally adjusted— as of July 2020, it was 9,000. Meanwhile, the figure for the previous month was 10,000.
In the case of the estimated number of self-employed persons, last July there were 177,000 and in June there were 170,000, for an increase of 7,000 more people.
The DTRH reported that the non-seasonally adjusted non-working group estimate for July 2020 totaled 1,546,000. This reflects a significant increase of 17,000 people compared to the previous month and 10,000 more when compared to July 2019.
“The coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has been an event that has impacted all sectors of our actual society. In Puerto Rico, the collection of worker group survey data was also impacted. The studies corresponding to the months of March and April 2020 could not be carried out due to the quarantine decreed in Puerto Rico. Given the need to obtain statistical information, instructions were issued to carry out said study as of May 2020, ”said the DTRH in its most recent report.