Jamaica’s inflation down considerably

Oil prices came back from the pre-Ukrainian war prices easing inflation in Jamaica in April, with the country posting the lowest inflation rate since April last year. The year over year inflation rate is up to 11.8 percent according to Statin’s latest read on inflation.

Increased fuel prices added to inflation.

The release from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica would lead to a view that despite the negative 0.1 percent for April 2022, that inflation is still rising. That of course is false. Over the past seven months, inflation is trending well within the Bank of Jamaica’s range of 4 to 6 percent, at 5.10 percent annualised, with March being the worse month with a 1.6 percent increase, fueled a lot by the events associated with the Ukrainian war, but for that, the rate may well be lower than it currently sits.
The trend is in keeping with ICInsider.com report earlier this year, suggesting that inflation was well in control from the latter part of 2021.
The reduction in inflation in April according to the release by Statin, “was occasioned by electricity rates, which mainly resulted from lower fuel charges.”
The above decline was tempered by Statin states, by the 1.1 percent increase for the group ‘Water Supply and Miscellaneous Services Relating to the Dwelling due to increased water and sewage rates. Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’, increased by 0.5 percent, as most classes within the division recorded higher inflation rates. There were reduced prices for Vegetables, tubers, plantains, cooking bananas, pulses, Fruit and nuts.

Jamaica’s tourism back on track

Tourism arrivals into Jamaica in April exceeded those for March this year by 4 percent, data out of the Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport shows. The performance is even greater in percentage terms, with April having one less day than March. Significantly, the number of persons passing through the Sangster’s International Airport in Montego Bay climbed to 94.5 percent of the 2019 flows, resulting in a near-normal trade, the first time since February 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 virus outbreak.

Growth in tourism almost back to 2019 levels in April

The important Easter holidays fell around April 17th this year and the 21st in 2019; there would be no distortion to the numbers due to the holiday period when there would be more visitors to the island.
Incoming and outgoing passengers numbered 401,300 in April, up from 385,700 in March this year and 424,700 in April 2019, the last year before the covid induced fall out in the sector in 2020 data out of operators of the airport, Aeroportuario del Pacifico and published by Tourismanalytics.com show. In 2021 visitor movements through the airport numbered 157,600, or 61 percent less than this year.
The Montego Bay Airport states that the airport accounts for 73 percent of visitors to the island. It is, therefore, good reading on the overall industry movements.
Kinston’s Norman Manley Airport enjoyed an 18 percent jump in arrivals in April over March with 115,900 inward and outward movement, compared to 98,400 in March this year and 45,000 incoming and outgoing passengers in April 2021. No data is available for the Norman Manley Airport for 2019. Kingston had 139 percent more passengers in the four months to April compared to the same period in 2021 and for Montego Bay, there was a “187.5 percent increase from 462,200 in 2021 to 1,329,000 in the first four months of 2022. The 2022 total of 1,329,000 movements was 75.4% of the 1,762,700 passenger movements handled in the first four months of 2019,” Tourismanalytics.com reported.


Market interest rates over 8% in Jamaica

Bank of Jamaica sucked $64 billion out of the financial market as of April 29, in the form of 30-day CDs but that was $3 billion less than the April 14, auction, but the average rate obtained by investors was 8.23 percent, up from 7.92 percent at the middle of April.
The month end auction saw 184 bids up from 141 in the previous auction amounting to $35 billion, up from $19.37 billion previously going after the $17.5 billion that was offered, compared to $14.5 billion in the prior auction.
Only 78 bids were successful with the lowest rate at 7.10 percent for $1.48 billion, up from 7.00 percent for $104.9 million and the full allocation of $30 million at 8.74 percent compared to $50 million at 8.35 percent while there was partial allocation at 8.75 percent compared to 8.4 percent at the mid-April offering.
The CD rates compare with 4.5 percent for the BOJ overnight rate set at the end of March.

Remittances to Jamaica drop

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remittancesJamaica experienced the first big decline in remittances since the huge surge between 2020 and 2021, with a decrease of 10 percent or US$32.7 million to US$295 million in March, this year from $327 million in 2021.
“The significant decline in remittance inflows is partly due to the earlier timing of Easter in 2021 as well as increased cash in hand remittances as travel recovers. Increased cost of living in the main source markets was also a factor,” the release from Bank of Jamaica states.
For January to March 2022, remittance inflows to Jamaica amounted to US$793 million, a decline of 1.4 percent from the first quarter of 2021.

Unemployment at record levels in Jamaica

As Jamaica’s economy continues to recover from the negative effects of Covid-19, with a sharp drop in the number of persons unemployed and the number of persons employed is 16,000 less than the previous highest previous level in January 2020, according to data released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin)
“In January 2022, there were 1,257,100 employed persons, an increase of 57,800 or 4.8 percent over January 2021”, Statin reported. But the 2022 numbers lag that of January 2020 with 1,273 million persons employed. With a full labour force of 1.34 million only 83,000 persons were regarded as unemployed as of January, the lowest on record with an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent bettering the previous lowest rate of 7.1 percent in October last year and much better than 8.8 percent for the same quarter of 2021.
While the unemployed numbers have fallen, the number of persons in the workforce declined from 1.373 million in 2020 to 1.34 million in 2022 a drop of 39,000. The job seeking rate declined to just 3.9 percent in the latest survey down from 4.9 percent in January 2020.
The largest increase in employment by occupation group was in ‘Clerks’. There were 120,500 persons employed in the occupation group ‘Clerks’ in January 2022, increased by 22,100 or 22.5 percent compared to January 2021.
Real Estate and Other Business Services had the largest increase by industry group compared to January 2021.

The Hampshire Apartments complex a Guardian Life project.

There were 126,600 persons employed in this industry group in January 2022, an increase of 25,200 or 24.9 percent versus the 2021 quarter. The second highest increase was in ‘Accommodation and Food Service Activities’, which employed 13,900 more persons.
The number of persons classified as Outside the Labour Force was 755,600 in January 2022, a decrease of 22,400 or 2.9 percent from 778,000 in January 2021.
Of import, the data would have done at a period when the tourism sector was operating at around 30 percent capacity as well as some other businesses that were yet to recover fully from the decline since 2020, as such the next reading could result in another fall in the unemployment rate and a strong possibility that total employment could get to record levels.

Jamaica visitor arrivals up 38% over February

Jamaica’s tourist industry continues to rebound, with the latest data suggesting that March this year is showing the best performance since 2019, with a decline of 22 percent from March 2019, the previous period of uninterrupted visitor arrivals to the country.

Tourism is Jamaica’s largest earner of foreign exchange.

An impressive 38 percent more passengers or 193,828 landed at the Sangster Airport in Montego Bay in March this year than the 140,368 that came in February this year and is up by 190 percent on the 66,778 incoming passengers in March 2021.
According to tourismanalytics.com, Aeroportuario del Pacifico, which manages the airports in Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, saw the total number of passenger movements in March 2022 being 78.4 percent of the 491,800 handled in March 2019.
The Sangster International Airport data for the first three months of 2022, Montego Bay Airport saw total incoming passengers increase by 215 percent, to 452,496 passengers.
Kingston’s Airport handled 98,400 total passenger movements in March 2022, increasing 27 percent compared to February, with 77,500 total movements. The total number of passenger movements in March 2021 was just 36,700 passengers.
Total passenger movements the Kingston’s Norman Manly International Airport grew by 131 percent, from 115,500 in 2021 to 267,100 in the first three months of 2022.

8% jump for Jamaica’s remittances

Remittance inflows into Jamaica climbed 8 percent in February this year over 2021 to $254.7 million at a faster pace than the one percent increase in January 2022 enjoyed over 2021.
The February 2022 inflows are 15 percent higher than the US$243.7 million collected this January thus reversing a marginal US$4 million decline in February 2021 against January of that year. The increase in February continues the strong rise in remittances the country enjoyed since 2020 when it rose by 20.76 percent in 20220 over 2019 and 20.38 percent over 2020.
Remittance inflows for January and February 2022 grew 4.5 percent to US$498.4 million over the similar period in 2021 the Bank of Jamaica report shows.

Jamaica’s tourism recovery slowed in January & February

Jamaica’s tourism recovery slowed in the first two months of 2022, as indicated by airport traffic passing through the country’s two international Airports shows.
The Sangster International Airport handled a total of 274,700 incoming and outgoing passengers in February 2022, just 2.7 percent ahead of the 267,300 in January 2022, but total passenger movements in February 2022 was 67.6 percent of the 406,400 handled in February 2019 and 64.3 percent of the 426,700 passengers handled in February 2020. The Montego Bay Airport handled just 75,600 passenger movements in February 2021, following the reopening of the country to international travel in June of 2020.
For the first two months of 2022, total passenger movements through the Sangster International Airport, increased 209.2 percent, from 175,300 in 2021 to 542,000 and representing 64 percent of the 846,200 passenger movements handled in the first two months of 2019, according to Aeroportuario del Pacifico, which manages the airports in Montego Bay and Kingston, Tourismanalytics.com report shows.
The Kingston Norman Manley International Airport recorded a decrease of 15 percent in February this year from January, from 91,200 to 77,500 total incoming and outgoing passengers in February 2022, well off the 122,600 passenger movements in February 2020, but up from just 30,100 passengers in February 2021. For the first two months of 2022 total passengers passing through Kingston grow by 114.1 percent, from 78,800 in 2021 to 168,700 in 2022.
The growth for the island slowed markedly from a fall of 20.6 percent in December last year and 25 percent in November compared to 2019.  Arrivals and departures of 281,115 in December 2019 slipped to 223,333 in December 2021, but last year December was well up on 2020 at just 90,164.
Sounds out of the industry suggest that March is performing very well. “The tourism sector is back on track with another record weekend of stopover arrivals, with close to 35,000 visitors coming through the Sangster and Norman Manley international airports combined, between Thursday, March 10 and Sunday, March 13,” Minister Bartlett stated recently.
This number tops the combined 30,000 arrivals the previous weekend, with Sangster International accounting for 27,000 visitors. Jamaica continues to be the destination of choice in the Caribbean and based on projections, Minister Bartlett says “we expect that this March will be the strongest in terms of arrivals since the pandemic disrupted worldwide tourism in 2020 and we expect in excess of 200,000 coming to Jamaica for the month.”

Barbados tourism recovering not there yet

Barbados received 39,284 stopovers visitors in January 2022, well up from the coronavirus ravaged January 2021 when the country attracted just 3,547 stopover arrivals but the 2021 numbers still lagged the performance in January 2019 of the 69,496 stopovers by 43.5 percent, data from Tourismanalytics.com reveals.

Tourism recovery

The January 2022 arrivals were little changed from the 39,356 stopovers received in December 2021.
According to Tourismanalytics.com, Barbados Statistical Service reported that Barbados Barbados received 15,718 landed cruise visitors in January 2022. Barbados reopened its ports to cruise ships in April 2021.
The country received 144,833 stopovers in 2021, just 20.3 percent of the 712,946 stopovers received in 2019 the Barbados Statistical Service is reported to have said. Barbados imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all visitor arrivals as of March 22, 2020, which remained in place until November 24, 2021. Barbados consequently received 3,547 stopover arrivals in January 2021.

Remittances inched higher for Jamaica

Following historical record haul in remittances to Jamaica, the country saw a modest 1.4 percent growth in total remittance inflows for the first month of 2022 compared to January 2021 as a total of US$244.4 million entered the financial system, data recently released by the country’s central bank show.
In January 2021 inflows jumped nearly 33 percent from US$181.5 million. In 2021 inflows for January was the second lowest month of the year, following February that brought in US$236 million. In 2021 remittance inflows grew by US$592 million to US$3.5 billion.
The USA provided the largest amount of inflows accounting for 70.3 percent, up from 69.8 percent in January 2021. The UK contributed 11.1 percent, followed by Canada and the Cayman Islands, with 9 percent and 5.7 percent respectively, the Bank of Jamaica report indicated.