Impact of limited federal data on Puerto Rico recovery, economy

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Cindy Brown Barnes, director of Education, Workforce & Income Security Issues at GAO, details a new report on the lack of economic and labor numbers coming out of Puerto Rico and discusses the need for more data.


As the 2018 hurricane season begins, Puerto Rico’s power grid is mostly restored after Hurricane Maria devastated it last year. However, getting an exact reading on how the storm affected the island’s economy is almost impossible. According to a Government Accountability Office report, there’s been a problem gathering Puerto Rico’s economic and labor data for several years.

 

“There is a lack of federal data for Puerto Rico. The Bureau of Economic Analysis includes the gross domestic product for all of the other territories and for all the United States. This is a measure of goods and services produced. This is used by the administration, it’s used by Congress for the federal budget. It’s even used by Wall Street investments and businesses… Without that we were hindered and not able to do a complete analysis,” said Cindy Brown Barnes, director of Education, Workforce & Income Security Issues at GAO. “We went to Puerto Rico’s planning board… They produce their own gross domestic product. But, they use outdated measures and unreliable measures, so the numbers that they produce weren’t reliable. That hindered us in doing a full analysis.”