The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) is reporting third-quarter 2019 calendar year economic growth of 0.6 per cent, from July to September, relative to the corresponding period the previous year.
This out-turn is 0.3 per cent higher than the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) estimate, as announced during the agency’s quarterly briefing last November.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, noted that the figure represents the 19th consecutive quarter of economic growth for Jamaica.
Additionally, he said it is the longest unbroken stretch, dating back to 1997 when quarterly measurements commenced surpassing the previous period of nine consecutive quarters.
In a statement on Thursday (January 2), STATIN said the September 2019 quarter figure resulted from 1.2 per cent growth in the services industries, despite a one per cent contraction in the goods producing industries which saw all sectors, except manufacturing, which grew by 4.9 per cent, declining.
The Institute indicated that growth was achieved in all eight service industry sectors, with finance and insurance services – 3.4 per cent, and hotels and restaurants – 2.5 per cent, leading the way.
Among the other sector out-turns were transport, storage and communication, up 1.2 per cent; real estate, renting and business activities, up 0.9 per cent; electricity and water supply, up 0.8 per cent; wholesale and retail trade, repairs, and installation of machinery and equipment, up 0.6 per cent; and producers of government services, up 0.4 per cent.
STATIN noted that growth in hotels and restaurants resulted from a 4.9 per cent increase in foreign national arrivals.
This, it pointed out, positively impacted the hotels and other short-stay accommodation and, by extension, restaurants, bars and canteens subcategories.
Contraction of the goods producing industries was, primarily, consequent on lower levels of output in: mining and quarrying, down 17.6 per cent; construction, down 2.1 per cent; and agriculture, forestry and fishing, down 0.1 per cent.
STATIN noted that agriculture, forestry and fishing declined due to dry weather conditions islandwide, coupled with increased production costs.
The mining and quarrying sector’s decline largely resulted from the suspension of production at the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) Alpart refinery in Nain, St. Elizabeth, in September.
The Institute further indicated that the construction sector was impacted by a fall in the civil engineering subgroup, consequent on a reduction in road rehabilitation works.
However, the manufacturing sector’s 4.9 per cent growth resulted from spikes in the food, beverages and tobacco, and other manufacturing subindustries, up 2.4 and 8.8 per cent, respectively.
STATIN pointed out that the latter out-turn was largely attributed to higher petroleum products output.
The Institute noted, however, that the 2019 third-quarter out-turn was 0.1 per cent lower than the April to June 2019 quarter.
This, it explained, was due to a 0.4 per cent fall in the goods producing industries, despite a 0.1 per cent increase in the services industries.
In a statement on Thursday, Dr. Clarke said JISCO’s closure “was expected to impact growth in the third quarter of 2019 and is expected to impact the fourth quarter of 2019 as well”.
“However, the fact that the economy still expanded overall, despite a decline of nearly 18 per cent in the critical alumina sector as a result of the JISCO/Alpart closure, is a credit to the improving economic resilience of the Jamaican economy,” he added.
Against this background, Dr. Clarke said it is anticipated that for the upcoming 2020/21 fiscal year, economic growth will return to the levels recorded prior to the JISCO/Alpart closure.
“The projection is for economic growth for the 2020/21 financial year to return to levels above one per cent. The Government will continue to use all levers at our disposal to elevate levels of growth beyond this, across the medium term,” he added.