Jamaica’s historical low unemployment

The unemployment rate fell to its lowest level on record, with January 2019 unemployed falling 1.6 percentage points from 9.6 percent in January 2018 and ending at was 8 percent for the first month of 2019.
The fall in the unemployed number arose from an increase in the Employed Labour Force for January 2019 of 1,232,700, some 28,600 or 2.4 percent more than in January 2018. The largest increase in employment was in the occupation group ‘Clerks’ 12,800 or 15.8 percent, which moved to 94,000 in January 2019. Of the increase in employment in this group, females accounted for 8,300 persons.
Female employment was 3.5 percent more and males 1.4 percent than in the 2018 period, Statin data shows. The increase in employment for females was more than twice that of males. The number of employed males increased by 9,500 to 673,500 and employed females by 19,100 to 559,200.
More females were employed in the occupation groups ‘Professionals, Senior Officials and Technicians’ and ‘Clerks’. There was also an increase in the number of females employed in the industry groups ‘Hotels & Restaurants Services’ and ‘Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities’.

Jamaica’s inflation up 0.8% in March

Inflation in Jamaica rose 0.8 percent in March and brings the year to 0.7 percent date data released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) shows and the fiscal year inflation to 3.4 percent.
According to Statin, the movement was mainly attributable to a fall of 0.9 percent in the index for the heaviest weighted division Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages and a 1.5 percent rise in the Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels division at resulted from a 2.7 percent increase in the group ‘Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’. Also contributing to March’s inflation rate was an increase of 1.1 percent in the index for the ‘Transport’ division. This was mainly attributable to the rise in petrol prices.

 

How the east was won?

Annmarie Vaz winner of the East Portland seat.

Anne Marie Vaz increased her party’s support by a stunning 58 percent, over the JLP’s haul in the 2016 General Election to win the East Portland by-election on Thursday with just 11 votes less than 10,000.
At the same time, Damion Crawford only pulled out 5 percent more votes than was polled for the PNP, in 2016. The story gets increasing bad for the PNP and it is not just in this election. The writing was on the wall for years but poor candidature, by the JLP lent the view to many onlookers, that East Portland was safe PNP territory. The 2007, results with the PNP winning by less than 800 votes, should have sent a clear warning to them that things were changing rapidly.
In this latest election, the number of new voters on the list, grew by 5.6 percent, but Crawford’s increase of 4.8 percent was less than the rise in registered voters. Looked at differently, he picked up just 354 votes more than in the 2011 elections or only 3.8 percent more. On a net basis, he garnered only approximately 25 percent of new voters, while Vaz got 75 percent. This is consistent with a pattern seen island wide since 1993 and is one that is not likely to change, anytime soon.
The Labour party was able to get out their 8,000 voters of 2011 and add 24 percent more voters to it, in addition to commandeering the vast majority of new voters, the vote tally at the end of the preliminary count suggests.
The results on the surface is a major about turn for the seat. Closer examination of the numbers for a longer period tells a clear tale. The huge 2019 increase is due to a below performance for the JLP in the 2016 elections, when the votes by the party sank by a hefty 22 percent and  well against the national trend. The trend since the 1993 elections, suggests that the natural growth in party support should have seen them polling over 9,700 votes, just below the numbers she got in the latest polls.
The data also points out that the trend is indicating that the JLP should have polled around 2,000 more votes than they did, this time around.  Those voters are there in their corner based on the growth in support, reflected in the average gains in votes cast in prior elections. This bit of information is also reflected in public opinion voting survey data.

Jamaican economy grew 2% in 2018

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Mining was the biggest contributer to GDP gains in 2019

Preliminary estimates by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) puts growth in the Jamaican economy for the 2018 at 1.9 percent, the highest in 11 years bettering 1.7 percent achieved in 2011 and almost twice the one percent rise in 2017.
The increase is “due to a 5 percent growth in the Goods Producing Industries and a 0.8 percent increase in Services Industries,” Statin stated.
The fourth quarter last year, grew 2 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. This growth is due to increases in both the Services Industries and the Goods Producing Industries of 1 percent and 4.9 percent respectively.
For the full year, growth occurred in all the Goods Producing Industries: Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing up 3.1 percent, Mining & Quarrying up a strong 25 percent mainly due to the reopening of Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company, Alpart refinery, manufacturing a moderate 2 percent and Construction up 3.7 percent.
For the first quarter of 2019, GDP is expected to accelerate at a faster pace than for 2018 and will be strongly, impacted by a surge in tourism stopover arrivals that is up in double digits for the first quarter.

Tourism drives Jamaica’ GDP to 4%

Big increase in visitor arrivals in the first quarter of 2019 set to give Jamaica’s GDP a big lift in the quarter.

The huge increase in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2019 is likely to result in a 4 percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of the year, data compiled by IC Insider.com suggest.
While the category of Hotels and Restaurants that tourism sector falls only accounts for around 7% of total GDP, the huge increase in stop over arrivals being enjoyed by the sector in the March quarter, will most likely more than compensate for its size in GDP computation and could add as much as one percentage point, to the quarter’s growth.
According to the Jamaica Tourist Board, “stopover arrivals in January 2019 were 216,509 an increase of 11.3% or 21,900 additional arrivals over the 194,609 recorded in January 2018.” Importantly, the arrivals from USA, the country with the high tourism spend is up 20 percent and would have contributed more in inflows as a result of the higher spend even as number of nights they stayed slipped a bit form 2018.

Construction sector is also expecetd to continue to lift the economy in 2019.


February, is up by 14.9 percent, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett told The Sunday Gleaner and reported by that publication on March 3. The Jamaica Observer stated, “data provided by Delano Seiveright, communications strategist and advisor in the Ministry of Tourism, show that total visitor arrivals for the period March 1-17 amounted to 148,052, a 24.8 percent increase over the 118,597 recorded for the same period last year. Breaking down the numbers, Seiveright said that for the period March 1-17 this year Montego Bay welcomed 125,069 visitors, an increase of 22.7 percent compared to 101,967 for the same period last year, while the numbers for Kingston were 22,983, up 38.2 percent over the same period last year.”

Jamaican Government cuts transfer tax to 2%

Effective April will government will reduce transfer tax from 5 percent to 2 percent, the Minister of Finance Dr. Nigel Clarke told Parliament, in his maiden budget presentation.
The minimum business tax for all businesses and asset taxes for non-financial businesses will be abolished effective April. The taxes were a nuisance and discriminatory in nature, lacking equity as they did not equate to the size of all businesses in the country, resulting in smaller businesses bearing a larger burden than larger ones.
The threshold for filing GCT will be moved from $3 million to $10 million, a level below which no GCT return will have to be filed. The minister stated that the change will result in 3,000 businesses not having to file GCT returns.
Stamp duties relating to certain transactions will be removed and substituted by a simple fee of $5,000, equal to the cost of providing the service. They will also abolish ad valorem stamp duties and replace them with a flat fee of $5,000.

Anya Levy of ReMax Elite Realtors

The amount on which estate tax is payable, will move from $1 million to $10 million effective April. The Minister stated that the measures will result in $14 billion in taxes being given up, by the government.
The minister also stated that the primary surplus will be lowered from 7 percent of GDP to 6.5 percent and was arrived at in discussion with an IMF staff.
IC Insider .com spoke to two noted individuals within the real estate market who are positively impacted by the news on stamp duty and transfer tax reduction. Deborah Cumming of Century 21 said “that is fantastic news, it will make a tremendous difference to the industry and the economy.” While Anya Levy associate broker at ReMax Elite. “that is fantastic, it will give incentive for sellers to move their properties and increase volume. It’s the right move and government will make up the taxes given up by increased volumes.”

BOJ cuts interest rate & cash reserves

Bank of Jamaica announces its decision to lower the policy interest rate (the rate offered on overnight placements with Bank of Jamaica) by 25 basis points to 1.50 percent.
The central bank also announced a cut in cash reserve requirement of commercial banks by 3 percentage points to nine percent effective the begining of March.This reduction will increase liquidity in the financial system by $16.8 billion and thereby support
the expansion of credit to businesses and households at lower rates and at better terms, the central bank stated.
The liquid asset requirement is also being reduced by the same amount.

More females employed

Females accounted for 7,600 persons of the 7,800 persons between October 2017 and October 2018 to 261,800 persons employed as ‘Professionals, Senior Officials and Technicians’ that had the second largest increase in employment in the period in Jamaica, data from Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) reported today.
The largest change in employment by industry group was in ‘Real Estate, Renting & Business Activities’ with an increase of 9,700 persons, (11.9 percent) moving from 81,700 in October 2017 to 91,400 in October 2018. Employment, however, decreased in ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’ by 7,500 persons (9.4 percent) to 72,000 over the same period.
Statin stated, “the unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in October last year and represented a reduction of 1.8 percentage points relative to 10.5 percent in October 2017”. There was an increase in the number of persons employed, particularly females in the industry group ‘Real Estate, Renting & Business Activities’
The Employed Labour Force for October 2018 was 1,219,700, 14,400 or 1.2 percent higher than in October 2017.

Prices in Jamaica plunged for December

Prices in Jamaica on average, fell sharply by 1 percent in December last, bringing inflation as measured by the country’s Consumer Price Index to 2.4 percent for the calendar year. The fall in inflation for December occurred across several main categories of goods and services.
The movement in the index for the fiscal year-to-date was 2.7 percent. The rate of increase on average is well below the target set by the government for the central bank to aim at, for the fiscal year of 4 to 6 percent. Had it not been for a spike in the rate of exchange between April and September last year, the rate for the year would have been even lower than the final numbers reported.
Food and Non Alcoholic Beverages and the Transport division declined by 1.5 percent. The fall in Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages resulted from a decline of 6.2 percent in Vegetables, Starchy Foods due to increased supplies of agricultural produce the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) stated. The decrease in the Transport was due to lower prices for petrol, while Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels fell by 1.3 percent, due mainly to reduced rates for electricity, sewage and water rates.

Xmas cash suggests higher growth – BOJ

Currency in circulating increased at a much faster pace that Bank of Jamaica projected in early December. According to the Central Bank “the faster currency growth possibly reflected improved GDP growth, employment and retroactive wage settlements during the period.”
During the last six days of December, Bank of Jamaica recorded net currency issue of $5.457 billion to financial institutions. This was substantially above the Bank’s projection for net issue of $412 million as well as the $860 million currency issue for the corresponding period of 2017 and average of $1,396 billion over the past 5 years. The currency issue for the week contributed to an overall growth of $23.6 billion or 21.4 per cent in the currency stock for December 2018, above the Bank’s projection for growth of $18 billion or 16.5 per cent. The increase for the month also exceeded that for December 2017 of 16.5 percent and was the largest growth in December since 2007.

Grace new HQ close to the end of construction in downtown Kingston

At the end December 2018, the currency stock amounted to $133.5 billion, representing an annual increase of 20.4 percent, compared to annual growth of 12.9 per cent at end December 2017. The Central Bank stated that “when the estimated change in consumer prices is taken into account, the real annual growth in currency at end-December 2018 was 15.9 per cent, compared to 7.3 per cent for the corresponding period in 2017”.
The Bank is anticipating, that most of the currency issued during December, will be redeemed in January. The release from the bank stated that, “for the last five years, net currency redemption in January averaged 75.8 per cent of the net currency issued in the preceding month.”