Newest Job Figures for Puerto Rico Show the Downside of Being a Territory

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released their latest figures on jobs and income for Puerto Rico, and the news is not good. As of September 2015, Puerto Rico was far behind the U.S. as a whole in employment and income.

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The U.S. as a whole showed a year-over-year increase in employment of 1.9 percent, and a 2.6% increase in weekly wages, to $974.00. Puerto Rico as a whole showed an average weekly wage of $412.00. The good news shows in the figures for San Juan, where average weekly wages were $614.00 — still far below the U.S. average. Employment increased in San Juan by .04% — but fell by .07% in Puerto Rico as a whole. San Juan may be doing better on average than the rest of Puerto Rico, but the States are better off by far.

There are some who believe that being a territory is a good thing for Puerto Rico. It’s hard to see where they get this idea. Times are hard for the average person in Puerto Rico, much harder than they are for the average person in the States. The cost of living is comparable to that in many States, and the territory has the highest sales tax of any U.S. state or territory.

Yet there are those who suggest that Puerto Rico should have a lower minimum wage than the U.S. as a whole.  Jobs are in short supply and average wages are already less than half of the average wage in the 50 States.

If being a territory were good for Puerto Rico, things would be better in Puerto Rico.
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It is time to give up the fantasy that Puerto Rico has a special position that is, or somehow could be, better than being a state. There is no basis in fact.

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