Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr Wayne Henry, reported that the economy grew by 1.1 per cent for the October–December 2017 quarter, the strongest quarterly growth for the calendar year. The Goods Producing Industry grew by an estimated 1.2 per cent due to growth in the Mining & Quarrying and Construction industries, which outweighed the contractions recorded for the Agriculture and Manufacture industries.
The Services Industry grew by an estimated 1.0 per cent, reflecting increased Real Value Added in all industries. This growth was influenced by the performance of the Hotels & Restaurants Industry, which grew by an estimated 5.7 per cent. Total visitor expenditure was US$752.8 million, an increase of 17.7 per cent relative to the corresponding quarter of 2016.
The key drivers of growth were: (1) increased external demand from Jamaica’s main trading partners; (2) increased hotel room capacity and air seat capacity; (3) increased capacity utilization in the Mining & Quarrying Industry; and (4) major infrastructure works.
Production was negatively impacted by above normal rainfall levels during and prior to the review quarter which adversely affected agricultural output. Additionally, output was negatively impacted by plant downtime due to technical problems at some plants.
For calendar year 2017, real GDP is estimated to have grown by 0.5 per cent, representing the fifth consecutive year of GDP growth.
The Director General also noted that the Labour Force Survey undertaken by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), indicated that the unemployment rate as at October 2017 was 10.4 per cent, the lowest recorded in ten years. The male unemployment rate was 7.3 per cent, while the female unemployment rate was 14.1 per cent. The youth unemployment rate was 25.4 per cent, representing the lowest rate recorded since January 2009. The total number of employed persons as at October 2017 stood at 1 206 800, an increase of 27 300 persons relative to October 2016.
The short-term prospects for the Jamaican economy are positive based on: the continued strengthening of productive activities in both the Goods Producing and Services industries, led by continued recovery of the Mining & Quarrying Industry; recovery in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Industry; the continued strengthening of the Construction industry; and growth in the Hotels & Restaurants Industry.
In light of the above-mentioned factors, real GDP for the January–March 2018 quarter is expected to grow within the range of 1.0 per cent to 2.0 per cent. The growth in real GDP for Fiscal Year 2017/18 is projected to fall within the range of 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.
Contact: Gwyneth Davidson (Communication Specialist)
Telephone: 960-9339/906-4471/2/935-5042 (D)