Jamaica’s unemployment rate
as of second-quarter 2018
Jamaica’s year-over-year GDP
growth rate as of second-quarter 2018
Jamaica’s annual inflation rate
as of July 2018
Steven Wyble is the former online content editor at Scotsman Guide Media. For questions
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The Caribbean nation of Jamaica was settled by the Spanish in the 16th century and
seized by England in 1655. The nation finally gained independence in 1962. Despite
the country’s reputation as an idyllic tropical getaway, however, economic struggles
— including an anemic or retrenching gross domestic product (GDP), and poverty —
have plagued the country in recent years.
Jamaica’s services sector accounts for more than 70 percent of its GDP, with most of its
foreign exchange coming from tourism, remittances and aluminum sales, according
to the CIA World Factbook.
Although Jamaica is an upper middle-income country, it struggles with low growth,
high public debt and external shocks, all of which weaken the country’s economy,
according to the World Bank. Jamaica’s GDP increased an average of about 1 percent
annually over the last 30 years, the CIA World Factbook states, making it one of the
slowest-growing developing countries in the world.
Since 2013, the World Bank has provided Jamaica with more than $510 million of
developmental-policy and investment financing to spur private-sector growth,
public-sector transformation, and to build resilience in the face of social and climate
The World Bank asserts its investment in the country is beginning to pay off.
The country’s credit rating has improved and Jamaican bonds have begun trading
at a premium in international markets. Public and publicly-guaranteed debt fell to
114 percent of GDP by the end of 2017.
Additionally, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) touted an 11-year low unemployment rate and a “significantly lower” poverty rate in a June 2018 press release as
evidence that the country’s economic reforms are working.
Although Jamaica’s economy contracted by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018,
by the second quarter, the economy grew by 1.8 percent compared to the same
period a year prior, according to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), an agency of
the country’s Ministry of Finance and Planning.
PIOJ Director General Dr. Wayne Henry attributed the uptick to improved weather
conditions, which improved output in crucial industries such as agriculture; the
resumed operations at the JISCO Alpart alumina refinery; and increased construction
activity related to road rehabilitation as well as commercial and residential development.
“Indications are that the pace of economic growth will continue to strengthen during
the remainder of 2018 and 2019,” Henry said, according to Caribbean360.com.
The country still faces struggles. Crime and violence levels remain high, underscoring
the need to deal with youth unemployment, education and social cohesion, according
to the World Bank. And although economic reform points to future growth, a more
resilient economy is needed to eliminate poverty in the country, the bank states. n
By Steven Wyble