Puerto Rico jobless rate eases

San Juan, March 20 (IANS/EFE) Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate came in at 14.6 percent in January, 0.7 percentage points lower than in the same month of 2012, Labor Secretary Vance Thomas said.

He said at a press conference that the number of jobless on the US commonwealth totaled 177,000, 11,000 fewer than a year ago.
But the workforce participation rate also fell, from 42.5 percent to 41.7 percent, according to figures provided by Thomas.
The January unemployment figures are the first to be released in Puerto Rico since new Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla took office early that month.
Thomas said an executive order published in January requires government agencies to regularly send all available employment data to the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics for inclusion in the US commonwealth’s Inventory of Statistics.
The goal of the initiative is to ensure transparency of information and availability of first-hand data.
Thomas said February’s data will be made public March 29 and subsequent statistics will be published on the third Friday of every month.
The director of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, Mario Marazzi, said the executive order is proof that transparency is a priority for Garcia Padilla’s administration.
Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service late last year slashed Puerto Rico’s credit rating by two notches to Baa3, or one level above speculative grade.