SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - NOVEMBER 14: Governor Alejandro García Padilla announces a 200 million dollar expansion of pharmaceutical operations of Eli Lilly in Puerto Rico at the Governor's Mansion on November 14, 2013 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)2013 Getty Images
San Juan, Puerto Rico – Officials of Puerto Rico, in recession since 2007, received Monday with cautious optimism a report that the economy improved for two consecutive months for the first time in a year.
"What we're doing is making progress. The economy...was going down, then began stabilizing to later start growing," Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said, adding that now is the time "to leave pessimism behind."
The economic-activity index showed growth in September of 1.1 percent, and of a further 0.6 percent in October, following a cumulative decline of 5.4 percent over the four previous months.
The Puerto Rican economy has gone downhill every year since 2007, except in 2012 when it was up 0.1 percent. The slump has been accompanied by double-digit unemployment.
In fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30, the economy dropped 0.3 percent, and is expected to sink another 0.8 percent by the end of the present fiscal year.
Figures released this Monday come after weeks of delay, something officials in San Juan blame on October's U.S. government shutdown.
"We have to bring you the real news, positive news, something more than what some magazine says," Garcia Padilla said in an interview on WKAQ radio.
But Puerto Rico's main opposition party, the PNP, said these figures show that the island's economy has been struggling for 11 straight months in negative territory.
"The numbers indicate that the patient is still in a coma," PNP legislator Antonio Soto Torres said in a communique.
The main rating agencias rank Puerto Rico's public debt just one step above junk-bond status.