Jamaica's unemployment rate spiked in January, according to new jobs data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
The findings of the January 2012 Labour Force Survey released in May put the unemployment rate at 14.1 per cent, compared to 12.9 per cent one year ago.
Some 23,100 jobs were lost last year, according to the current survey, but not everyone left the labour market.
The latest survey shows that some 9,300 people dropped out of the labour force, cutting the pool from 1.27 million to 1.26 million.
The unemployed pool of the labour force has grown to 177,200.
The results of the January 2012 survey, which was really conducted over the period December 18-24, estimates that there are 686,900 males and 573,700 women in the labour force.
The employed pool totalled 1.08 million, of which 56.7 per cent or 614,800 are men and 468,600 or 43 per cent are women.
Statin said of total jobs lost last year, 5,500 occurred in the final quarter.
The spike in unemployment is heavily skewed towards females among whom the unemployment rate is 18.3 per cent, while for men it is 10.5 per cent.
In January 2011, the rate was 9.5 per cent for males and 16.8 per cent for females.
Sectors with the largest job cuts over one year included construction, 10,900 jobs lost; and professionals, senior officials and technicians, 10,200 cuts.
Job gains were recorded in the health & social work sector, which employed 3,500 more persons; and the occupation group of plant and machine operators, up 1,200.
Still Jamaicans seem fairly optimistic about finding jobs. Statin estimates that the persons seeking work in the January 2012 survey increased by 4.3 per cent to 106,000.