Business

Unemployment continues to decline

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Jamaica's unemployment rate continued its downward trend to record 3.1 percentage points, lower than the rate recorded in January 2017.

Data provided by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) for the month of January 2018 showed that Jamaica's unemployment rate was 9.6 per cent, the lowest unemployment rate recorded since October 2007.

The number of Jamaicans employed increased by 22,600 people relative to January 2017. However, there was a decline in the labour force by 21,200 people to 1,335,100.

Director general of Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Wayne Henry, said while the country's working-age population grew by 1,100, there was an increase of 22,300 in the number of people outside the labour force.

He was speaking at the PIOJ's press briefing on Jamaica's economic performance for the period January to March.

The main reasons cited for this increase in people outside the labour force were 17,000 more people indicating that they “did not want work”; 5,800 more saying that they were “at school part-time” and 4,600 more people indicating that they were “at school full-time”.

Total number of employed pereople as at January 2018 stood at 1,206,600.

An examination of the employed labour force by industry group revealed that 10 of the 16 sixteen industry groups recorded higher employment levels. The largest increases in employment levels were recorded in wholesale and retail trade (up 7,900 people); construction (up 7,300 people); hotels and restaurants (up 6,400 people); and other community, social and personal service activities (up 3,900 people).

JAMAICA'S POVERTY RATE FALLING

During 2016, the country recorded a full recovery from the job losses which followed the 2008 global economic crisis. The development was accompanied by a decline in the overall poverty rate to 17.1 per cent, a reduction of 4.1 percentage points relative to 2015.

It also represents the second downward movement recorded for national poverty rates since 2007.

Henry noted that the decline in the poverty rate for 2016 could be attributed to Jamaica's GDP growing by 1.4 per cent in 2016; low inflation of 1.7 per cent in 2016, representing the lowest rate in 45 years; increased employment and higher remittance reciepts of US$65.5 million to US$2,291.5 million in 2016.

With respect to regional distribution, there were declines in the poverty rate for the Kingston Metropolitan Area — which fell 2.4 percentage points to 11.9 per cent — and rural areas, which recorded an eight percentage point decline to 20.5 per cent. Other towns, on the other hand, registered an increase of 1.3 percentage points to 16.0 per cent.

The PIOJ also noted that agriculture, which accounted for 7.3 per cent of GDP in 2016, comprises a significant part of the rural economy and positively impacted poverty.

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