Puerto Rico to Lay Off 16,000 Public Workers

Cheryl Phillips's picture

An announcement was made today that Puerto Rico's government will lay off 16,970 public workers in an effort to close the gap on a $3.2 billion deficit. This is the third year of the recession and hopes the layoffs will help close a $3.2 billion deficit as the island struggles through its third year of recession and a 15% percent unemployment rate.

Government Development Bank President Carlos Garcia told a news conference that 16,970 workers would be let go across many agencies and departments but other people would be hired for finance and educational jobs.

This is the second layoff in Puerto Rico this year. Almost 8,000 people lost their jobs in May.

The current layoff, expected to take place for most workers on November 7, involves workers across many agencies and departments but other people would be hired for finance and educational jobs. Aside from the layoffs, the government has also cut spending on contracts, instituted a hiring freeze and levied temporary taxes.

In response to the layoff announcement, union leaders made it known that there will be an island-wide strike on October 15th. Employee unions, including island school teachers oppose the staff reductions, and plans are being made for a general strike.

"This new round of layoffs is unacceptable. We are not only relying on a strategy of strikes but are talking about multiple actions, including civil disobedience and lobbying to stop this," said Jose Rodriguez Baez, president of the Puerto Rico Workers Federation.

Many on the island feel that the layoff will make things even worse in Puerto Rico. Without income, no one will be spending. Business leaders also agree that the layoffs will harm the island's fragile economy even more

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