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The things you to try and get re-elected. In the case of Puerto Rico’s Republicans pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuño, you spend 30 minutes talking with a puppet. La Comay from WAPA TV’s Superexclusivo is the island’s #1 show. The host is a puppet and Fortuño got a full half-hour. We will be dissecting this later this week since just like any politician, Fortuño misses the mark on many things, but here is the full interview (in Spanish) for you so see. Yes, just in case you didn’t know, Fortuño is talking policy with a puppet.

 

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The US Department of Labor released the May employment numbers for Puerto Rico and the data confirms the following:

  • May’s 14.2% rate is the island’s lowest unemployment rate since February, 2009, when it was at 14.1%. The unemployment rate has fluctuated between 14.1% and 16.6% since Republican and pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuño, who is facing re-election in November, has been in office.
  • Right now, Puerto Rico’s civilian labor force is at 1,267,965—this is the lowest labor force on the island since October, 1995 (1,266,581). The following graphs show how Puerto Rico’s civilian labor force continues to decrease over the past 10 years. The graphs also show that there are fewer jobs on the island. So, even though the unemployment rate is now at 14.2%, the labor pool is shrinking and so is the total number of employed people. For example, in December 2011, there were 1,090,300 employed Puerto Ricans and the December 2011 unemployment rate was at 15.2%. In May 2012, there were 1,087,600 employed Puerto Ricans with an unemployment rate of 14.2%. Between December 2011 and May 2012, therefore, there has been a net decrease of about 2,700 employed people in Puerto Rico because the civilian labor force during that time has gone from 1,285,500 people in December 2011 to 1,267,965 people in May 2012. That is a loss of about 17,000 people in the labor force.
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  • Public sector government jobs are now at about 266,000 jobs, which is the lowest since October, 2011, yet ever since Fortuño’s big purge to have fewer public sector jobs on the island when he took  office in 2009, public sector jobs continue to increase.
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You can see all the latest statistics here.

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From first glance, you would think that the recent news of Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate dipping under 15% for the first time since May, 2009 (US Dept of Labor) would be good news for incumbent Republican and pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuño (although it is still in double digits). In a tough re-election campaign, he can begin to let people know that the island is slowly creeping out of four years of recession and he can do fluff interviews on FOX to state his case.

Yes, in April 2012 Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate (see image) was at 14.8%. However, look at the numbers. Really look at the numbers on this chart and you will see a different story: for all his talk about economic growth (new Walmarts!), cutting public sector jobs and making government leaner and meaner, Puerto Rico is actually losing jobs public sector jobs in Puerto Rico continue to be one of the island’s industries that is growing.

Here is the data that one should consider, based on official statistics from the US Department of Labor:

  • From March to April, the Puerto Rican labor force decreased by 11,000 workers. In March, the labor force was at 1, 285,500. In April, it was at 1,274,500. In February, the labor force was at 1,291,400. So, from February to April, the Puerto Rican labor has decreased by 2%.
  • Because the labor force is shrinking, Puerto Rico actually had a net decrease in total number of jobs in April, but still say the April unemployment rate go down by .02%. In April, there were 1,086,400 employed Puerto Ricans. In March, that number was 1,092,100. So about 6,000 jobs were lost but the unemployment rate went down. In February, the total number of jobs were at 1,097,400, which means that about 11,000 jobs were lost even though the unemployment rate is going down. Where are these jobs going? Who is leaving the island? Young talent. The labor force of Puerto Rico is shrinking.
  • In addition, the public sector continues to be one of the island’s top sources of employment. In April, there was a reported 270,800 government jobs. In March, that number was at 269,100 and in February it was at 269,200. In January, the jobs were at 271,300. This sector continues to trend up.

The date presents other gains, like construction, but they are offset bu industries like trade, transportation, and utilities. In the end, the talk of a Puerto Rican miracle are a bit premature, because the labor data shows that people are just giving up or leaving the island’s labor force. Less people, less jobs, and a drop in unemployment. That is one way to fix your problems, although we don’t know if it is the best way.

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There is journalism and then there is fluff.

FOX’s “STOSSEL” show is fluff. One-sided agenda journalism at its worst.

Republican and pro-statehood Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño, the incumbent who is trailing in polls to an opponent who has his own issues, is trying to put a spin on an economic situation on the island as he runs for re-election. Strategy #1: Get on a show where you get the most softball of questions from a supposed journalist. As for John Stossel? Try asking actual factual questions, like: Why is your island still stuck at 15% unemployment? Why is your labor force shrinking? Why is public sector employment still growing? If you are so popular, why are you not leading in the polls, even though you claim that you and your opponent are “dead even?” And why are young people leaving the island for jobs in the United States? Also, Fortuño should take credit for one thing: cutting taxes since the rate in Puerto Rico was actually much worse than the mainland, so all he did was bring it down to US levels. So, basically, it is not like Fortuño cut taxes to levels that are favorable. Sure, taxes in Puerto Rico were high, how hard was it to lower it to levels that match the US?

And why should you need facts to tell your story when you are running for re-election as an incumbent and losing in the polls?

To the Fortuñistas, the following video is the central focus on their re-election campaign. To the rest of Puerto Rico, it is a sham. And Stossel? Do some more homework about Puerto Rico, and stop pretending that you are all of a sudden an expert about it.

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UPDATE: As of May 14, around 10PM EST, the Por Puerto Rico 2012 page is now up and running.

Does the 2012 campaign team for Puerto Rico’s incumbent Republican and pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuño having issues with its website? Tonight around 10:15 EST, a simple search off the governor’s Facebook site lists Por Puerto Rico 2012 as the Fortuño’s official campaign page.

Once you click on that site, you get this: “Your website is ready. This site has been successfully created and is ready for content to be added. Replace this default page with your own index page.”

The same site is referenced on the New Progressive Party’s official site, and the same thing happens. You would think that in the middle of a tough election this year, Fortuño 2012 might want to double-check where it is taking people interested in what his campaign is saying. Or maybe not.

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If the race for Puerto Rico’s governor were held today, the latest poll from El Nuevo Día, the island’s largest newspaper, suggests that incumbent Republican and pro-statehooder Luis Fortuño would have a hard time overcoming his main challenger, Alejandro García Padilla.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

These latest results, which were published this morning in END, changed very little from a poll that ran in late March. García Padilla, who is the choice of the island’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD) was at 38% then and he is at 38% now. Fortuño was at 30%, and has crept up to 31%. Pro-independence candidate Juan Dalmau is still at 4%, and there is still 19% who are undecided.

Even with the current national attention by the Republican National Committee being given to Fortuño, the incumbent has barely dented García Padilla’s lead, if that. It’s all about the economy, as they say, and in Puerto Rico, Fortuño’s much publicized tough love has resulted in a more divided island that is still spiraling from double-digit unemployment, a shrinking labor force, and an exodus of young talent to the mainland.

Who knows what the 19% undecided are thinking, but to think that Fortuño will have an easy time is a stretch indeed. Maybe the RNC should be taking notes and rethinking its promotion of the Puerto Rican governor.

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Good to see Florida Senator Marco Rubio commenting about the upcoming November plebiscite question in Puerto Rico. Sure, Rubio, who is of Cuban American descent, represents the state of Florida, which has seen an increase in voters of Puerto Rican descent the last few years, so it makes sense that he would weigh on the island’s non-binding vote to determine its political identity (statehood, independence or enhanced commonwealth). However, Rubio’s opinion reflects what most of the US Congress and President Obama is saying: the final decision by Puerto Ricans on the island has to be a clear majority, whatever that means. Just for reference, the 1958 statehood vote by Alaska won by a 6 to 1 margin, although only about 46,000 voted in Alaska. In 1959, Hawaii gained a 94% voted for statehood. Ironically, the one person who is pushing for a binding resolution of the status question is GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

This is what a report from Caribbean Business chronicled about Rubio’s comments:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party and potential vice presidential pick, has broken ranks with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney over the issue off Puerto Rico statehood.

Rubio said in an interview that 50 percent plus one vote in a status plebiscite isn’t enough to put Puerto Rico on the path to become the 51st state.

“It doesn’t have to be 100 percent, nor 90 percent, but it cannot be, to say a figure, 51 percent of the votes,” Rubio reportedly told a local newspaper.

That puts the Cuban-American lawmaker, often mentioned as a vice presidential running mate for Romney, at odds with the former Massachusetts governor on statehood.

Romney has pledged to support statehood for the island if that option wins the Nov. 6 referendum on Puerto Rico’s political status, saying a simple majority at the polls should be enough.

The position taken by Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, actually puts him on the same page as Democratic President Barack Obama when it comes to statehood for Puerto Rico.

Right now, polls on the island show a virtual dead heat between enhanced commonwealth and statehood. It is highly doubtful that either option enters Hawaii or Alaska numbers, and in the end, the US Congress will still have final say. So, after 114 years of a complex (and colonial) relationship with the United States, Puerto Rico looks like it will still be stuck in the status quo.

One thing all Puerto Ricans, both on the island and the mainland, should agree on is that the upcoming plebiscite needs to be BINDING.

If you agree, let your elected officials know by visiting their official Congressional pages.

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