I was going to do what is called ‘burying the lede’ with this story, but changed my mind, so here it goes: almost half of all females aged 14-24 in Jamaica are unemployed, while about one quarter of males in this age group are unemployed.
Think about that for a minute, then continue on with the scene painted by the official government agency, and the story I originally wrote before remaining true to my journalistic roots.
Unemployment rates remain high in Jamaica, although there is reason for optimism. The latest figures in the October 2014 Labour Force Survey from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica reveal an overall increase of 0.5 per cent of people working in the period of Oct. 2014 over Oct. 2013. This means that 1.310,700 people were working compared to 1,304,500 over the same period one year ago.
Statin calls this figure the Labour Force, but then goes on to tell us that the Employed Labour Force in Oct. 2014 was 1,124,500 versus 1,110,500 for Oct. 2013. This is confusing- I’m not sure what the difference is. In any case, the figures appear to represent a positive trend, although it is always instructive to ask how many people gave up looking for work, but this figure is not in the report.
Put another way, Jamaica’s unemployment rate is 14.2 per cent, with a shocking discrepancy between males and females (quoting from the report):
- In the same period the unemployment rate for males and females declined moving from 10.6% to 9.9% and 20.0% to 19.4% respectively.
Breaking the number down further, the unemployment rate amongst youth (14-24) remains alarmingly high at 36 per cent versus 37.7 per cent for Oct. 2014 versus Oct. 2013. It gets even worse when broken down by gender (again, quoting from the report):
- For males, it decreased by 4.1 percentage points, moving from 31.4% to 27.3% while for females it increased by 1.6 percentage points, moving from 46.2% to 47.8%.
The sectors that fared the best (in terms of an uptick in people working) are (from the report again):
- Wholesale & Retail, Repair of Motor Vehicle & Equipment’ and ‘Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry & Fishing’. The number of persons employed in the group ‘Wholesale & Retail, Repair of Motor Vehicle & Equipment’ increased by 11,700 (5.5%) while the group ‘Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry & Fishing’ increased by 7,800 (3.9%).
So what can we glean from this report? There is still a problematic lack of work for youth? Why is this- are they lacking in skills training or education; is the economy so bad (and hence a lack of jobs) that entry level jobs are going to older workers? And why such a discrepancy between men and women? Could it be because the females in the youth age group are in school more than males? Those are my questions and my suspicions. What do you think?