With Election Day less than 50 days to go, the Department of Labor in Puerto has been accused of fudging the unemployment numbers. Judith Rodriguez, a demographer, says the local agency obtained a much lower unemployment rate by using the population number from the 2000 Census instead of the most recent one conducted in 2010. From 2000-2010, the island's population shrunk by 350,000 inhabitants as an increasing number of Puerto Ricans emigrate to the mainland for better economic opportunities. The island's official unemployment number for 2011 was 15.7%, according to the local labor department. However, the Bureau of Labor Statics puts the actual number at 18.5%. Rodriguez also criticized the government for both manipulating the labor force population number, as well as the number of those looking for work, and estimates the unemployment number for 2012 is about 20.7%. The government claims it was at 13.5% this past August.
The labor force participation rate in Puerto Rico was 39.2% in August, which is 0.7% less than the number published the month before. Unsurprisingly, some people become disillusioned and decide to stop looking for work altogether. Thus, decreasing the size of the labor force as those who are not actively seeking a job are not included in this group. Meanwhile, a recent visit by Irene Mia of the Economist predicts that Alejandro García Padilla (he hails from the pro-status quo party, PPD) will become the next governor of Puerto Rico. This is due to voters' discontent with Gov. Fortuño, and not because of García Padilla's substance as a candidate. Mia says Fortuño's austerity measures were necessary, and will help the island achieve an estimated 1.4% growth next year. Regardless of who wins the elections, Mia asserts that the island will continue to undergo a difficult economic period. Touché.