Director of Statistics Edwin St. Catherine has said that a third-quarter drop in unemployment is due to an increase of jobs in the economy but these jobs are “vulnerable”.
He was explaining the recently released unemployment data from the Central Statistics Department which showed that unemployment went from 20.8 percent in the second quarter of 2017 to 16.8 percent in the third quarter – a four percent drop. This decline involves mainly the age range of 30 and over, he said.
About 5,000 new jobs were created in the third quarter of this year.
“We have in our publication made an estimate of the percentage of the jobs that are vulnerable. So these jobs have not fully taken route in the private sector, which is the sector generally responsible for driving most of the employment that is created. So the public sector is less than 10 percent of the economy whereas the private sector is the bulk of the economy. So… any meaningful impact on employment conditions is created when the private sector generates those additional jobs,” he said to HTS News4orce.
St. Catherine said that figures for youth and development have showed no significant change as compared to last year’s third-quarter figures.
He said that the labour market has seen greater participation which “this tends to happen when there is a sustained turnaround in the labour market”.
“We’ve noticed this change in the labour market from the fourth quarter of 2015. We noticed that the labour market continued to improve through 2016 and it appears to be on track for a further improvement in 2017. So that trend is continuing and it’s being sustained and we think that this number in particular reflects that,” he said.
The director believes that the latest unemployment figures are in line with a poverty report published by his division some time ago.
“…We published that the long-term poverty rate from 2006 to 2016 was down from 28.8 percent to 25 percent. We also saw between 2015 and 2016 a fall in the multi-dimensional poverty level from, I think it was 23 percent to 18 percent. This is a new indicator that we will be publishing. It covers four domains of indicators – health, education, wealth and also labour,” he stated.
The director noted that greater visitor arrivals have also contributed to third-quarter employment figures.
“There have been some improvements in visitor arrivals especially this year… Whenever there are improvements like that [such as] increases in stayover arrivals the hotels are in a better position to employ more people or they can, for example,” he said.
“What tends to happen in the hotel sector is that a lot of people could be marginally attached to the jobs. So in the process of when there are more visitors, you get more people more permanently attached to their jobs, and therefore, when you come to their homes they will tell you ‘yeah, well I did work last week.’ And that tends to happen for more weeks during the third quarter and that’s what some of this is reflecting,” he said.
An increase in e-commerce is believed to be the cause of a decrease in employment in the wholesale and retail sector.