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KINGSTON — Preliminary data on the performance of the Jamaican economy for the January to March 2011 quarter, indicate real growth of 1.5 per cent, says Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson.

Speaking at the PIOJ’s quarterly press briefing at the institute’s Oxford Road office on Friday (May 20), Dr. Hutchinson said he anticipates that this growth trajectory will continue throughout the remainder of the year, barring unforeseen circumstances.

“Overall the PIOJ is very optimistic that the growth momentum in the domestic economy will solidify and, barring any major shocks, the economy will experience increased dynamism and growth for the remainder of 2011,” he said.

He also projected that for the April to June quarter, real GDP will increase by about one to two per cent. He forecasted that most industries will record growth, or a moderation of their rate of decline, with agriculture, forestry and fisheries, mining and quarrying, tourism and the wholesale retail trade being the main drivers of growth during the period.  

Dr. Hutchinson pointed out that the performance of the Jamaican economy has occurred against the background of an expansion in the global economy. He stated that most industrialised and emerging market countries recorded positive GDP growth, indicating a strengthening of the recovery efforts following the 2009/2010 global recession.

He noted that the positive GDP outturn for Jamaica represented a break from the 13 quarters, or more than three years, of negative GDP output which the country had endured.

Dr. Hutchinson further noted that the 1.5 per cent growth also showed a noted improvement on the preliminary rate of one per cent increase, which was stated by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, in the recent Budget Debate.

He said the Labour Market survey also showed that the unemployment rate for the quarter ending January 2011 was at 12.9 per cent, compared to 13.5 per cent in January 2010.

“This resulted from an expansion in the employed labour force by 14,900 persons, relative to January 2010, with 10 of the 16 industries surveyed reporting increased employment levels,” he stated.

Dr. Hutchinson pointed out that, compared to the last quarter of 2010 survey, total employment levels have increased by 15,500 persons.

Official poverty estimates computed by PIOJ and the Statistical Institute (STATIN) for 2010 was reported at 17.6 per cent.

“This official outturn is better than the projected 18.6 to 20.3 per cent for the period, and reflects a smaller than projected decline in employment levels, a greater than projected increase in the number of persons who benefited from and the amount of assistance provided under the PATH (Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education) and an increase in home production, for example back yard cultivation, which supplemented consumption,” he informed.

 

By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter