#Jamaica, March 10, 2018 – Kingston – Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Government is keeping its commitment to the Jamaican people to create new jobs and reduce unemployment.
“I am pleased to report that an additional 43,000 persons have been employed over the past two years and the unemployment rate, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, has fallen from 12.9 per cent in October 2016 to 10.4 per cent in October 2017,” he noted.
“This is significant progress,” he said, while opening the 2018/19 Budget Debate in Parliament on Thursday (March 8).
He said that emphasis will be placed on increasing training to meet the need for skilled labour, which will help to lower the unemployment rate even further. He noted that the ultimate goal is to steadily increase the proportion of higher-paying jobs.
The Finance Minister said there was need to accelerate the pace of human development and training for the population. He informed that the United Nations projects a decline in Jamaica’s working-age population by 2030, and labour shortages could become an obstacle to faster growth.
“What this means is that the medium- and long-term prosperity of Jamaica requires that we urgently accelerate our strategy of focused human resource development and training programmes to increase productivity. We have a lot of work to do,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Shaw told the House that gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have increased by 0.9 per cent for 2017/18, with the period highlighted by record-breaking growth in tourist arrivals, a construction boom, historically high job creation, a fast-growing stock market, positive business confidence, and the strongest economic buffers in decades.
He noted, however, that the growth was not as high as projected, due mainly to the negative effects of unexpectedly high rainfall on agriculture and delays in restarting the production of bauxite and alumina.
“Without these issues, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) estimates that economic growth would have been between two per cent and 2.5 per cent. This is still not enough, and we still have important work to do,” Mr. Shaw said.
He noted that the economy has to be restructured so as to reduce the country’s vulnerability to weather-related events. He said the time has come to review the methodology of how economic growth is measured and to ensure that it is in line with international standards.