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ECONOMY RECORDS GROWTH FOR 1st QUARTER OF THE FISCAL YEAR—APRIL–JUNE 201730/08/17

The Jamaican economy recorded growth of 0.3 per cent for the April–June quarter of 2017, marking ten consecutive quarters of positive growth. This was supported by increased external demand for some of Jamaica’s goods and services as well as a strengthening of growth in the Construction industry. Further growth was constrained by the impact of adverse weather conditions which resulted in widespread flooding which affected the Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing; Mining & Quarrying; and the Electricity & Water Supply industries.  The Agriculture industry declined by 8.5 per cent based on the PIOJ’s agricultural production index. Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr Wayne Henry, revealed the results this morning, Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at the Institute’s quarterly press briefing.

The Services Industry grew by 1.2 per cent, however, the Goods-Producing Industry declined by 2.5 per cent.  Real Value Added for the Mining & Quarrying industry contracted by 10.5 per cent, reflecting a downturn in crude bauxite production by 15.2 per cent.  Within the Goods-Producing Industry, increases were registered for Construction, up 1.5 per cent and Manufacture, up 2.4 per cent.  Under Services, all industries recorded increases, with the exception of Producers of Government Services which remained flat. The Hotels & Restaurants industry grew by 8.0 per cent; Finance & Insurance Services by 1.5 per cent; Transport, Storage & Communication by 0.5 per cent; and Electricity & Water Supply by 0.3 per cent.  The performance during the quarter took place against the background of a quarterly inflation rate of 1.1 per cent and a real appreciation of the exchange rate of 0.6 per cent relative to the US dollar.
 
Based on the Labour Market Survey undertaken by STATIN in April 2017, the Director General also revealed positive indicators for the Labour Market. The employed labour force increased by 35 800 persons to 1 204 800 relative to April 2016, representing the highest level of employment ever recorded. The unemployment rate at April 2017 was 12.2 per cent compared with 13.7 per cent at April 2016. 
 
Dr Henry stated that growth prospects for the July–September quarter were generally positive based on expectations of continued macroeconomic stability with a low inflation out-turn and a relatively stable exchange rate. Real Gross Domestic Product is projected to grow within the range of 1.0 per cent to 2.0 per cent during July–September 2017 relative to July–September 2016.  The Director General indicated that there should be an uptick in domestic economic activities, particularly in the areas of Mining & Quarrying, supported by the resumption of operations at the Alpart Alumina plant, as well as in the Construction industry, reflecting increased residential and nonresidential construction activities, and in the Hotels & Restaurants industry facilitated by the  increased hotel room stock relative to 2016. 
 
Labour Force Quality & Security Status
The Programme Director, Plan Development Unit, Ms Elizabeth Emanuel presented an update on two of the indicators under Vision 2030 Jamaica for which data was available for the April–June 2017 quarter.  These were the Labour Force Quality and Security Status.  She noted that the Labour Force Quality had improved slightly, with an average of 26.3 per cent of the total labour force having vocational or professional certification, based on the quarterly Labour Force Survey for April 2017, an increase from 25.5 per cent in the April 2016 survey.  Additionally, the labour force quality of males in 2017 was 1.0 percentage point higher than in 2016, while that for females was higher by 0.8 percentage point. Ms Emanuel pointed out that in reporting on Security Status, we report on the indicator ‘Category 1 Crimes’ which are subdivided into two groups—Serious & Violent Crimes, and Acquisitory Crimes—in keeping with the classifications of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.  Category 1 Crimes include murder, shooting, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, break-ins and larceny. We also report on the Murder Rate as a separate indicator.  Sixty-one Category 1 Crimes per 100,000 population were committed in the April–June 2017 quarter – an increase of two per cent relative to the similar period in 2016 when 60 Category 1 Crimes per 100 000 population were committed.  When we consider the first half of 2017 (January–March and April–June quarters) we see that a total of 114 Category 1 Crimes per 100 000 population were committed – a four per cent decrease from the 119 per 100 000 population recorded for the similar period in 2016.
 
For the April–June 2017 quarter, 14.8 murders per 100 000 population were committed, up 19.5 per cent vis-à-vis the similar period in 2016 (12.4 per 100 000 population).  When we consider the first half of 2017 (the January–March and April–June quarters), we see that a total of 26.8 murders per 100 000 population were committed compared with 22.3 per 100 000 population over the similar period in 2016.
 
 
END. 
Contact: Carole James (Communication Manager) 
Telephone: 960-9339/906-4471/2/935-5145(D) 
E-mail: carole_james@pioj.gov.jm
 
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