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The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is reporting that the total number of persons who were employed at the end of January were 1,093,200, some 9,800 more than the corresponding period in 2012.

The country’s labour force stood at approximately 1,274,800 at the end of January 2013, an increase of 14,200 persons over last year.

Director General of the PIOJ, Colin Bullock, says the data came out of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) Labour Force Survey, which was conducted in January 2013.

The Director General was speaking at the Institute’s quarterly media briefing in Kingston, on May 22.

Meanwhile, Programme Director for the PIOJ’s Plan Development Unit, Richard Lumsden, who also spoke at the briefing, said the survey indicated that 23.8 per cent of the total labour force had acquired vocational or professional certification as at the end of January 2013. This, he informed, is a one per cent increase over the 22.7 per cent recorded for the similar period in 2012.

Labour force quality is one of five key areas in the country’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica, in which he said significant progress was made during 2012. The others are: economic growth, security status, health, and justice.

In the area of economic growth, Mr. Lumsden said the per capita growth (expressed in US dollars), increased by 6.4 per cent, moving to US$5,290 in 2012, up from US$4,973 the previous year. This, he pointed out, was based on an increase in nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the past three years.

With respect to security, the Programme Director pointed to significant gains in this area. He informed that the total number of serious and violent crimes reported, inclusive of murder, shooting, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, break-ins, and larceny, which occurred during the January to March 2013 quarter, fell to 79 per 100,000 of the population. This, he noted, is a 15.6 per cent decrease from the 94 per 100,000 recorded for the corresponding period in 2012.

Mr. Lumsden said the murder rate for January to March 2013 fell to 9.5 per 100,000, a 7.2 per cent decrease over the 10.3 per 100,000 recorded for the similar period last year.

In the area of justice, Mr. Lumsden advised that the case clearance rate in the Resident Magistrate’s Courts increased to 92.1 per cent in 2012, up 9.4 per cent from 82.7 per cent in 2011.

With respect to health, the Programme Director reported an increase in immunization coverage for children. He informed that coverage for children 0 to 11 months for tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus increased to an average of 95.5 per cent in 2012, up 1.6 per cent from the 93.9 per cent recorded in 2011.

“The immunization coverage for children between 12-23 months for MMR, covering measles, mumps and rubella, also increased to 92.3 per cent in 2012, up 5.8 per cent from 86.5 per cent in 2011,” Mr. Lumsden informed.

By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter