Puerto Rico in Economic Crisis
Most Americans agree that we are still going through tough economic times. Although too often news regarding the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is overlooked, there is a growing crisis there that is garnering attention in Washington and elsewhere. Puerto Rico faces historic economic challenges, but the worst part is that Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s lack of leadership and reckless policies are worsening the situation.
So what’s happening in Puerto Rico? Here are a few important, and troubling, facts and figures:
- Puerto Rico lost 32,000 jobs between July 2013 and July 2014 and saw 2,000 jobs lost in a one-month span from June 2014 to July 2014.
- Puerto Rico’s labor participation rate fell to 39.6% in July; it is one of the lowest labor participation rates in the world.
- Puerto Rico’s manufacturing sector shed over 1,300 jobs over this same period.
- Just 40 percent of working-age people in Puerto Rico are employed, one of the lowest rates in the United States.
- The number of people on nonfarm payrolls dropped by over 22,000 between July 2013 and July 2014.
- Puerto Rico’s population dropped by 38,000 in 2013 and is expected to decrease by 52,000 this year.
- Puerto Rico’s pension fund is only 7% funded, which is nothing short of abysmal by the standards of other American states and territories.
- Between when Gov. García Padilla took office in early January of 2013 and September 2014, the Puerto Rican labor force had shrunk by over 75,000 people, many of whom have given up looking for work altogether.
- In 2011, only 41 percent of the island’s population was in the workforce, 20 points below the rate on the U.S. mainland.
How has this happened? Well, Puerto Ricans are facing a growing tax burden, a government in debt, and a loss of employers due to bad economic policy by the local government. Governor Garcia Padilla’s strategy to date has been to borrow, tax, and violate the rule of law. Until Puerto Rico changes course, families on the Island will continue to suffer.