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Local Economy Grows 3.1% During FY 2000


December 28, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

According to preliminary figures obtained by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS from the Planning Board, Puerto Rico’s economy grew an annual average rate of 3.1% during fiscal year (FY) 2000.

The figure is higher than the Planning Board’s own "best case" projection of 3% in November 1999. It compares favorably with the 3.1% average growth experienced by the island between 1993 and 1998, although it is lower than the 4.2% growth rate experienced in FY 1999.

The influx of federal funds from Hurricane Georges and other sources helped the island achieve a much higher economic growth during FY 1999.

Based on current prices, Puerto Rico’s Gross National Product (GNP) reached $41.26 billion, a 7.9% increase over last year’s $38.23 billion. Adjusted for inflation, the increase was of 3.1%.

Factors for the increase include more personal spending, gross fixed capital investments, and export sales of goods and services.

Construction investment is one of the areas highlighted for the economic growth increase experienced by the island during FY 2000.

The value of construction during FY 2000 reached $7.03 billion, a 7.3% hike or $479.1 million more than FY 1999’s $6.55 billion.

Of significance is the fact that the construction activity in the private sector in FY 2000 was $4.15 billion, surpassing that of the public sector, which totaled $2.9 billion in FY 2000.

Construction investment in the private sector in FY 2000 was 19% or $660.7 million more than the previous year’s $3.5 billion total. Meanwhile, total construction investment in the public sector in FY 2000 was $2.88 billion, a $181.6 million or 6% reduction over the previous year’s total of $$3.07 billion.

During FY 2000, the island also experienced a high increase in registered merchandise exports, mostly coming from the manufacturing sector. These reached $38.47 billion, a $3.6 billion or 10.2% increase over FY 1999.

Total exports of chemical products reached $3.09 billion, being responsible for 86.8% of the increase in exports. Shipments from pharmaceutical companies are included in this group.

Tourism activity also experienced an increase. The number of visitors to the island in FY 2000 reached 4.6 million, an increase of 342,128 visitors or 8.1% over the previous year.

Spending by visitors in FY 2000 totaled $2.39 billion, an increase of $249.3 million or 11.7% over FY 1999.

The increase in economic activity reached in FY 2000 also brought an increase in the number of jobs and a reduction in unemployment.

The number of jobs for FY 2000 reached 1,159,000, an increase of 12,000 jobs or 1% over last year’s total of 1,147,000. The unemployment rate for FY 2000 dropped to 11%, the lowest rate in 30 years and 1.5% less than FY 1999’s 12.5% rate.

Planning Board officials–who declined to comment for this story–noted these preliminary figures are subject to revision. At press time Friday, they were still working on cross-checking all the accounts to present final numbers for Gov. Pedro Rossello to announce before he leaves office.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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