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RECORD LEVELS OF EMPLOYMENT FOR JULY 2017 SHOW POSITIVE SIGNS IN THE JAMAICAN ECONOMY16/11/17

Preliminary estimates indicate that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the July to September 2017 quarter was 0.9 per cent relative to the corresponding quarter of 2016.  This followed a real GDP contraction of 0.1 per cent for the April to June quarter, which was associated with the negative impact on the economy of the flood rains during March to May 2017.  The Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr Wayne Henry, made this announcement during the PIOJ’s quarterly press briefing yesterday at the office of the PIOJ.

Dr Henry said that the Jamaican economy was showing positive signs which was substantiated by: record levels of employment; increased output in all industries, with the exception of the Mining & Quarrying industry; increased construction activities with the building of new hotel rooms, residential structures and other commercial buildings; the diversion of visitors from other regional destinations due to the impact of adverse weather conditions; and continued stability in the macroeconomic environment.
 
He reported that the Goods-Producing Industry was projected to have grown by 0.1 per cent, reflecting improved performances in the Manufacture and Construction industries.  Output in the Agriculture industry was flat, while the Mining & Quarrying industry registered a contraction.  The latter was due to technical problems experienced at both alumina plants during the quarter which resulted in plant downtime.  Real Value Added for the Manufacture industry was estimated to have increased by 1.5 per cent, reflecting growth in the Food, Beverages & Tobacco component. Real Value Added for the Construction industry was estimated to have grown by 1.3 per cent, reflecting growth in both the Building Construction and Other Construction components.    
 
Dr Henry revealed that the Services Industry was estimated to have grown by 1.1 per cent, with the largest growth coming from Hotels & Restaurants; Electricity & Water Supply;  Finance & Insurance Services and Transport, Storage & Communication.  The Electricity & Water Supply industry recorded an estimated increase in real value added of 2.6 per cent, reflecting the impact of increases in both electricity consumption and water production. Real Value Added for the Hotels & Restaurants industry, which captures the majority of tourism activities, grew by an estimated 5.5 per cent relative to the corresponding quarter of 2016.  This was a result of a 10.7 per cent growth in stopover arrivals to 572,920 persons and a 28.5 per cent increase in cruise passenger arrivals to 351,659 persons, reflecting increased arrivals at all major ports.  Total visitor expenditure was estimated to have increased by 13.1 per cent to US$694.5 million.  Real Value Added for Finance & Insurance Services was estimated to have increased by 1.4 per cent, reflecting increases in net interest income at deposit taking institutions; and higher revenue generated from fees and commission.  Real Value added for the Transport, Storage & Communication industry is estimated to have grown by 1.0 per cent.  This performance was due to expansions in both the Transport & Storage and the Communications components of the industry.
 
The Director General noted that the latest employment data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) showed that the unemployment rate as at July 2017 was 11.3 per cent, the lowest quarterly rate recorded since July 2009.  The youth (14–24 years) unemployment rate declined by 2.1 percentage points to 27.5 per cent.  In addition, there was an increase in the labour force for July 2017 by 8 000 to 1 371 200 persons relative to July 2016.  The total number of employed persons as at July 2017 stood at 1 216 200 persons, an increase of 29 200 persons relative to July 2016, representing the highest employment level ever recorded for a single month.  The number of employed males increased by 14 200 to 677 300 and employed females increased by 15 000 to 538 900.
 
Dr Henry stated that growth prospects for the October to December quarter were positive based on the stable macroeconomic environment demonstrated by modest inflation and stability in the exchange rate and the anticipated strengthening of output in all industries, including the Mining & Quarrying and Agriculture industries.  Continued strengthening in the Hotels & Restaurants industry was also expected. The continued implementation of major growth inducing projects such as the construction of a new 190 megawatt plant by JPS would contribute to  growth in the economy.
 
Vision 2030 Jamaica Report
The Programme Director, Plan Development Unit, Ms Elizabeth Emanuel presented details on the country’s performance results in terms of the social, economic, environmental and governance aspects. She pointed out that progress on the achievement of the goals and outcomes of Vision 2030 Jamaica was measured through 67 national outcome indicators which are aligned to the four national goals and 15 national outcomes. She noted that these indicators signalled the extent to which the implementation of strategic priorities under Vision 2030 Jamaica was achieving the intended results.  
 
Ms Emanuel stated that a summary of the progress made under the framework of national outcome indicators and targets for the Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan indicated that of a total of 67 national outcome indicators monitored under Vision 2030 Jamaica, 67.2 per cent have shown improvement over the baseline year 2007 based on data up to 2017, while 31.3 per cent showed no improvement or worsened over the baseline.  Some of the indicators (i.e. 57.7 per cent) which showed improvement over the baseline year 2007 include: Category 1 crimes (which include murder, shooting, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, break-ins and larceny) /100 000 population; percentage of the labour force certified; Voice and Accountability Index; nominal GDP per capita; Agriculture Production Index; and Environmental Performance Index.  A total of 42.3 per cent of the indicators improved over the baseline but are showing declining trends.  Some of these indicators include: Grade 4 literacy rates – both sexes; attendance rate at primary schools; murder rate; the Energy Intensity Index; and the Housing Quality Index. Overall, the country’s performance in regard to the Vision 2030 Jamaica framework of national outcome indicators and targets have shown improvement in 2016/17 over the performance in 2015/16.
 
In concluding her presentation, Ms Emanuel stated that a summary of performance by National Goals showed that the largest development gains were under Goal 1: “Jamaicans are Empowered to Achieve their Fullest Potential”, followed by Goal 3: “Jamaica’s Economy is Prosperous”.  In contrast, Goal 2: “The Jamaican Society is Secure, Cohesive and Just” and Goal 4: “Jamaica has a Healthy Natural Environment” were the areas of greatest concern for the country.
 
 
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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