Job losses hit 40,000

Published: Sunday | November 8, 2009

Jamaica's informal sector has expanded as the economy failed to deliver jobs in the formal sector. This man decided to take a nap at his cart on Maxfield Avenue in Kingston recently. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

The number of Jamaicans to lose their jobs since the worldwide recession started is now estimated at 40,000.

The update was presented by Prime Minister Bruce Golding on Friday after months during which the Ministry of Labour reported that 30,000 persons had lost their jobs.

Golding announced the new figure and pointed to the fallout in the bauxite industry as the main culprit. However, he argued that Jamaica still had much to be thankful for.

According to the prime minister, while there has been a major fallout in the bauxite industry, the country has shown that it can be resilient in some areas, such as the tourism industry, which has withstood the challenge of the times.

Golding noted that between the end of 2008 and May 2009, three of four bauxite refineries had shut down, and that remittances, the country's biggest foreign-exchange earner, had fallen off significantly because of the recession in the United States.

"Bauxite/alumina accounts for almost 60 per cent of our total merchandise exports, so when you have an almost total collapse in that industry, you know what that means in terms of our foreign-exchange earnings and the loss of jobs," Golding said.

He was addressing the 14th annual Caribbean multi-national business conference at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Montego Bay.

The four-day conference is designed to stimulate thought and pave the road to joint investments and partnerships while expanding opportunities for doing business in the Caribbean, as well as finding creative financial solutions in a resuscitated economic environment.

Golding congratulated Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett, who the prime minister said, had mobilised the best team in the business, and was now off to China to explore the possibility of tapping into that massive tourism market.

"Jamaica is the only Caribbean destination that has shown increased numbers, although our earnings are slightly down," Golding said.

However, it appears that the prime minister has missed the latest report of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, which stated that in the Caribbean, Guyana enjoyed the biggest increase in visitor arrivals for the period January to October of this year.

guyana on top

The report, Outlook for the Global Economy and Caribbean Tourism, places Guyana above other countries with a more than six per cent increase for the 10 months.

Jamaica and Cuba recorded less than four per cent increases, while other countries, including the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Dominica, Curaçao, Martinique, Puerto Rico, The United States Virgin Islands, Belize and St Lucia recorded significant decreases.

According to the report, "The Caribbean has borne the brunt of the economic downturn with double-digit declines in visits across the majority of destinations. Only Guyana, Jamaica, Cuba and Saba have registered increases for the year."

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