The trend reflected by official employment statistics opens the way for Puerto Rico to design, in collaboration with multiple sectors, an integrated strategy to take advantage of the economic bets on reconstruction to create decent jobs that promote social equity.
The September 2018 survey by the Working Group portrays a disturbing reality that, on the other hand, gives direction to the economic and social development plan to bring prosperity and welfare to the people.
Integrating job development and creation that will produce a sustainable Puerto Rico with community and institutional support systems facilitates the integration of citizens into the labor force and has the potential to attract those who left the island.
According to that data, Puerto Rico had 699,000 full-time employees in February, 80,000 less than in September 2018. Meanwhile, there were 57,000 more part-time jobs.
From February 2018 to February 2019, about 32,000 women lost their full-time jobs. Two thousand men also lost their full-time jobs. One thousand men lost part-time jobs. And 42,000 more women had part-time jobs within a year in the same period.
Statistics are consistent with the profiles of female-headed below-poverty households. But in general, patterns of reduced part-time employment that force to have more than one job, dependency or migration have multiplier effects on the economy and society. Better working conditions produce better productivity levels. Likewise, with salaries and benefits that allow families to progress, the island retains its working force.
Rebuilding Puerto Rico to make it sustainable involves stimulating productivity with good jobs to boost the economic activity and social mobility.
In addition to jobs that fairly reward efforts, skills, and knowledge, policies are also needed to break down the obstacles that prevent men and women from joining the workforce and that keep more than half of our children in poverty.
That is, in fact, one of the recommendations included in the children´s budget report prepared by the Institute for Youth Development.
Therefore, it is necessary to create ecosystems that promote companies capable of creating new jobs.
The study confirms that low compensation is one of the factors affecting the efforts of many families with children to join the formal labor market. Limitations on transportation, lack of childcare support, and lack of tax incentives also play their role in the picture.
One of the actions needed to break the cycle that perpetuates generational poverty is to invest in programs that eliminate the barriers that families with children face to enter the workforce.
To overcome these obstacles, the report recommends, among other measures, providing tax incentives to private employers who increase employee benefits such as child care or health insurance. It also recommends providing resources to improve holistic services for employee development programs considering physical and mental health, among other needs. Greater investments in child care programs and/or payroll deductions for child care expenses are also proposed.
Jobs roll the wheel of progress and encourage development. Investing in strengthening jobs is one of the pillars of sustainability.