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Biggest job gains provided by manufacturing - Statin report

Published:Wednesday | May 13, 2015 | 5:00 AMNeville Graham
Metry Seaga, deputy president of the JMA.

Jamaica's manufacturing sector has added 7,200 jobs in one year to 78,900, a 10 per cent growth in sector employment amid a tepid improvement in job creation overall that producers tout as more evidence of the sector's value to the economy.

The jobs numbers reported by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica for the quarter ending January 2015 also included a 7.7 per cent boost or 5,500 more jobs since January 2014 for the 'transport, storage and communication' sector, which had the second best performance in the period.

The sectors shedding the most jobs were agriculture, down 7,400; real estate, which lost 6,100 jobs; and construction, down 5,300.

Reacting to the growth of manufacturing jobs, deputy president of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), Metry Seaga, says his sector has noted the buoyancy, while stating that manufacturing is a growth area for the economy that needs to be preserved.

"It proves that manufacturing is the way to get more jobs, more meaningful jobs, for people in this country, and we need to ensure that we don't do anything to stymie that growth," Seaga said.

Statin's jobs report for the January quarter was based on surveys conducted from December 14-20, 2014.

Seaga said improvements are being seen right across the sector, with baking, drinks manufacturing, innovation and the SME segment figuring largely in the results.

"Most of the new investment is coming from the drink companies in particular", as well as some baking companies, said Seaga. JMA has seen "a large increase" in SME membership and "we have young innovative people with new, creative ideas coming to the fore," he added.

There was an overall 0.23 per cent increase in the total number of persons employed at the end of January, pushing the employed labour force to 1.1327 million - a net gain of 2,600 jobs over 1.1301 million recorded in January 2014.

Women were the big winners, gaining 3,000 jobs to 489,300, while male employment dipped by 400 jobs to 643,800.

Still, the increase in employment was insufficient to cover the number of persons entering the job market. The labour force increased by 15,700 persons to just over 1.32 million, consequently, the unemployment rate rose from 13.4 per cent to 14.2 per cent year on year.

Youth unemployment also rose from 33.3 per cent to 34.5 per cent.

Within the employed labour force by occupation groups, jobs for clerks increased by 9,100, and by more than 15,000 for professionals/technicians. The category of 'service/shop/sales' shed more than 10,000 jobs while 'elementary occupations' lost 6,600.

With the gain in jobs manufacturing vaulted to the fourth largest employer of labour, but still falls way behind wholesale/retail and agriculture even while narrowing the gap with the tourism sector. The big five employers in the January 2015 quarter were: the wholesale/retail repair sector - 237,000 jobs; agriculture - 199,700 jobs; hotels/restaurants - 81,300; manufacturing - 78,900; and transport/communication - 77,100 jobs.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com