Reclaiming Common Sense

Puerto Rico Had a Weakened Economy Before Hurricane Maria

The monthly employment situation report covers Puerto Rico, too. The level of employment and unemployment is available through the CES (Current Employment Statistics) database. Hurricane Maria hit after September 12th so the impacts of the hurricane will not be reflected in the data until the October jobs report that is released during the month of November. The hurricane hit on September 26th, so the unemployment claims data will not be measured until October 7th or October 14th, as you have to be unemployed for one week before you can claim benefits. It may be even longer than that due to a total breakdown of communication and electrical systems. We also may see a spike in unemployment claims as a result of the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program. That is the background. How was Puerto Rico doing during the first half of August?

Why is this Article being written? This column produces monthly reports, plural, regarding the monthly employment situation report. The monthly series includes one on the report data, the Current Population Survey Jobs data and the Current Employment Statistics Workers data. The second column is the "Five Presidents at ___ Months" series. There is also the "War on (Wo)Men" series, the "Red, Gray, and Blue - Aging Workforce Series," the "Multiple Jobholder Series," and the "Sector Series. Now we have the "Hurricane Series" for Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. You cannot measure the impacts of these hurricanes without measuring where you started.

Only Three Sectors have recovered to Pre-2008 Recession levels of workers. The peak of the CPS Jobs data was July 2007. There are ten "Super Sectors" that are tracked and only 3 have recovered . Manufacturing is down. Government is down. Trade, Transportation and Utility work is down in Puerto Rico while it is up "virtually everywhere else."

The Unemployment Rate Spiked to 11.7% during August. The unemployment level, the number of unemployed workers, dropped to the lowest on record during June of this year. Even at its lowest level, the U-3 unemployment rate was 9.7%.

It is going to be two months until the jobs data and unemployment data for Puerto Rico will be available through the Department of Labor. Until that time, let people know that there is help available to those who would normally not qualify for unemployment benefits. Follow the link at the top of this column for information from FEMA on resources for those impacted by Hurricane Maria.

You can't know where you are if you do not know where you are starting.

It's the economy.