10.14.2009

Puerto Rico on the Edge

Even the harshest Republican governors on the US mainland aren't pushing for the mass firing of govt workers, but the one in Puerto Rico is. Gov Luis Fortuño has already fired 20,000 govt workers, including 7300 school teachers, and plans to fire another 10,000. This is on top of an island economy that leads the nation in unemployment and that shed 41,000 private sector jobs in the past year alone.

PR's unemployment rate now stands 17.5% -- again, by far the highest in the US and 2nd only to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. Oh, and the PR rate doesn't account for the under-employed nor for those who have given up hope of employment.

It's likely that 50- 60-70% of the island's workers are NOT gainfully employed—and prospects for such are exceedingly slim given the government’s boneheaded policies.

It's under this scenario that Fortuño's reckless firings, combined w/a military-style crackdown on protestors that's pushing PR over the edge. Though his response is not new...making life so miserable for workers that they migrate to the mainland is a well honed govt. strategy. Seriously, it's the classic San Juan approach to solving labor and economic challenges.

Watch tomorrow's island-wide strike. PR's future may very well depend on what the workers and the govt choose to do.