Puerto Rico is seeing some good news in employment, according to a new release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment in the municipio (county) of San Juan increased 1.3% from September 2017 to September 2018. This was close to the overall improvement in the United States.
Weekly wages in San Juan increased by 6% in the same time period, an improvement better than the improvement in wages for the United States as a whole. Puerto Rico in general saw a higher increase in weekly wages than the U.S. as a whole, with a 5.3% increase. U.S. workers saw a wage increase of 3.3 percent on average.
San Juan accounts for more than 28% of all the jobs held in Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, as with much of the news in Puerto Rico, the benefits do not cover the entire territory. San Juan, Juncos, Guaynabo, and Cataño all had weekly wages above $600 by the end of 2018. Thirty municipios, however, had weekly wage averages below $400.
The average weekly wage in the United States is $1,055. Juncos, with average earnings of $838 per week, had the highest wages in Puerto Rico.
Wages, in the states and in Puerto Rico, vary a great deal. The top 1% of wage earners in the states make $250,000 or more per year. The largest employment segment in the nation, food and restaurant service, has an average annual wage of just $18,930 per year. Puerto Rico has a similar
Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate went down to a record low of 7.6% in November of 2018, but has risen to 8.9 percent since then.
While these figures are far worse than those for the United States as a whole, which currently is at less than 4 percent, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate has been as high as 18.40%.
The improvements in employment and wages are good news for Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, these numbers are generally lower than those of even the poorest states. 32 territories have become states so far. All of them are more prosperous as states than they were as territories. Puerto Rico is ready for the rights and responsibilities of a state. Let your congressperson know.