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Financial News

Jan 2011 Financial News

High prices, low jobs. Regionally, Jamaica had 3rd highest inflation, 2nd highest unemployment in 2010

Jan 19, 2011

JAMAICA recorded the third-highest inflation rate among 22 regional nations in 2010 and the second-highest unemployment rate according to data released January by a United Nations body.

The island's inflation rate at 11.2 per cent (11.7 per cent according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica data) was only below Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela at 12.5 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. It's the fourth consecutive year of double-digit inflation for an island that has seen single-digit inflation only three years in the preceding decade, according to data in the Annual Statistical Yearbook 2010 complied by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). ECLAC is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The double-digit inflation trend meant that Jamaica recorded the second-highest regional inflation in 2009 at 10.2 per cent, third highest in 2008 at 16.9 per cent and second highest in 2007 at 16.8 per cent.

Despite the poor ranking for calendar inflation, the government can still make its projections for single-digit inflation this fiscal year which, ends in March. Government targeted a range between 7.5 to 9.5 per cent.

At the same time, Jamaica's unemployment rate jumped to 13 per cent in 2010 from 11.4 per cent in 2009. This resulted in the country's unemployment rank amongst 18 regional nations rising from fifth to second highest in 2010 over 2009. Only Dominica Republic recorded higher unemployment at 14.4 per cent.

Jamaica generally trails the economic performance of the region. The yearbook didn't include preliminary growth rates for 2010. However, Jamaica recorded the twelfth lowest growth rate among 33 regional nations in 2009 (originally at sixth lowest based on early estimates).

According to the World Economic Outlook published in October by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Jamaica is projected to have the seventh slowest growth rate in the world up to 2015, indicating missed opportunities for the debt-ridden country.

No cranes dot the capital city's business centre, its roads are filled with holes similar to the tattered clothes of beggars at the stoplights, and oftentimes youth recite an expression that reflects a lack of opportunity -- 'nothin' nah gwan'.

Jamaica Observer
Wednesday January 19, 2011