Jamaica’s unemployment rate for January 2022 was 6.2 per cent, some 2.6 percentage points lower than reported a year earlier, according to the latest data released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
In January 2021, the unemployment rate stood at 8.8 per cent, having then climbed from the 7.3 per cent seen in January 2020.
However, the January 2022 Labour Force Survey shows that fewer people were employed than in the pre-COVID-19 January 2020 period, falling from 1.269 million then to 1.257 million three months ago.
The number of persons classified as being outside of the labour force has also grown over the two-year period, from 755,000 in January 2020 to 717,000 in 2022, ultimately driving down the employment numbers.
Overall, there were 1,340,600 persons in the labour force in January 2022, an increase of 1.9 per cent – or 24,800 persons – compared to January 2021.
“It should be noted that in spite of the lower unemployment rate in January 2022 (6.2 per cent), compared to January 2020 (7.3 per cent), the quarter before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more employed persons in January 2020 than in January 2022,” STATIN Director General Carol Coy pointed out during a press briefing on Thursday.
When compared to January 2021, Jamaica’s employed labour force has grown 4.8 per cent, or by 57,800 persons. Females recorded the larger share of the increase in the number of persons employed, up 5.5 per cent, compared to employed males climbing by 4.3 per cent.
STATIN said that the industry group ‘real estate and other business services’ accounted for the largest increase in employment of 24.9 per cent, moving to 126,600 individuals. This was followed by ‘accommodation and food services activities’, which increased by 16.5 per cent to 98,200 persons.
Jamaica’s construction industry also grew by 8.9 per cent to 125,800 persons, and manufacturing jumped 10.3 per cent to 80,400 persons.
When broken done by occupation, the group ‘clerks’ accounted for the largest increase in employment of 22,100 persons, with females accounting for the majority of the increase, 13,000. Employment also increased in the groups ‘service workers and shop and market sales workers’, 15,700 persons; ‘professionals, senior officials and technicians’, 13,500 persons; and ‘craft and related trades workers’, 10,900 persons. The largest increase in male employment was in the occupation group ‘craft and related trades workers’, STATIN said.
Jamaica’s youth unemployment rate also declined by 5.1 percentage points to 17.7 per cent, relative to January 2021.
“There was a larger decline in female youth unemployment. The unemployment rate for both males and females declined by approximately 5.0 per cent. Male youth unemployment was 14.5 per cent while for females it was 21.8 per cent,” Coy said.
While the number of jobless Jamaicans falls, the price individuals pay for goods has been rising, STATIN reports.
The inflation rate for March 2022 was 1.6 per cent, and the annual inflation rate jumped to 11.3 per cent.
“This has been the largest point-to-point change since the implementation of the new CPI basket in April 2020,” Coy said.
The main contributors to the upward movement were the divisions ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’, 14.7 per cent; ‘housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’, 9.6 per cent; and ‘transport’, 14.3 per cent.
The increase in the index for the division ‘food and non-alcoholic beverages’ was mainly attributed to higher prices for items such as tomato, lettuce, and yam, which resulted in a 22.1 per cent increase in the index for the class ‘vegetables, tubers, plantains, cooking bananas and pulses