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Government jobs increased by 6,000 since January

Growth in public-sector employment continues while private sector declines


June 10, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Since Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá was sworn in to office in January, government employment has augmented by 6,000, although the governor promised not to increase the public payroll.

On May 25, the Puerto Rico Labor Department issued its Household Survey Report, which shows employment in the local government increased from 262,000 in January to 268,000 in April. It is important to note these figures don’t reflect all government jobs since it doesn’t include employment in transportation agencies and public utilities, which are reported separately in the Household Survey. The increase in government employment proves inversely proportionate to that of the private sector.

Since January, the Puerto Rico Labor Department has been using a new representative sample of approximately 3,500 interviews throughout the island to conduct the Household Survey based on the 2000 U.S. Population and Household Census.

In previous years, the department used a household sample of 6,500 based on the 1990 U.S. census data for this employment survey.

In a statement issued by the Puerto Rico Labor Department Secretary Román Velasco said executive branch initiatives to promote employment in the private sector have mitigated the potential negative effects of the island’s difficult economic situation.

However, the Labor Department’s Household Survey showed that since the Acevedo Vilá administration took office, the island’s commercial sector has suffered a loss of 15,000 jobs from 264,000 in January to 249,000 in April; the construction sector lost 7,000 jobs from 86,000 to 79,000; the manufacturing sector declined by 4,000 from 140,000 to 136,000, and the service sector by 1,000 from 352,000 to 351,000 jobs.

Establishment and Household surveys

The Establishment Survey, also conducted by the Labor Department, reports on nonfarm salaried employment. It obtains information directly from island business establishments, as opposed to the Household Survey, which obtains its information from islandwide household interviews.

In April, the Establishment Survey reported an increase of 8,300 salaried employees in Puerto Rico for a total 1,042,700, compared to 1,034,400 in April 2004. The survey shows an increase of 7,900 in government employment of which 7,200 were in the central state government and 700 in municipal governments. Federal government jobs during the same period declined by 400 employees. In his speech to the Legislature on March 9, Acevedo Vilá called for an end to big government by reducing and freezing government jobs and eliminating transitory and irregular positions. Despite these claims, both the Household and Establishment Surveys show government employment in Puerto Rico continues to increase while private-sector employment is decreasing.

On an island where approximately 30% of the population works either directly or indirectly for the government, it is no wonder government is the biggest employer on the island. "We have become a society of government people, people don’t vote for status, let alone political ideologies; people vote for political parties in the hope that, if their party wins, they will be able to earn a living in government," said former Resident Commissioner Antonio "Tito" Colorado.

Job expectancy and personal best interests have become the predominant factor when casting votes. Colorado added Puerto Rico’s government shouldn’t be in the business of generating employment opportunities; it should be concerned exclusively with those services essential to civil society. "Government’s greatest challenge is to decentralize itself," Colorado stated.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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