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LETTER OF THE DAY - Off base on jobless data

Published:Tuesday | October 7, 2014 | 10:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: Your editorial of Saturday, October 4, 2014, titled, 'Sugar boosts economy,' claimed "the average man in the street who is struggling to look after his family may not feel the positive wind that is blowing, especially if he is out of a job. April's figures provided by STATIN pointed to a decrease of 11,300 jobs. This is worrisome."

My check of STATIN's website, http://statinja.gov.jm/PressReleases.aspx does not substantiate your claim that STATIN declared that there was a decrease of 11,300 jobs.

STATIN's website states: "In April 2014, the number of persons in the labour force was 1,311,100, a decrease of 11,300 (0.9 per cent) from the 1,322,400 recorded in April 2013." This does not mean that there was a decrease of 11,300 jobs. This simply means that 11,300 fewer people were in the labour market. Given that the labour force is defined as persons over the age of 14, who are working or seeking work, one cannot jump from a statement that the labour force has 11,300 fewer people this year, April, compared to April 2013, to a statement that 11,300 jobs were lost.

There are a number of reasons why the labour force could decrease, including people staying in school longer.

STATIN's website provides more details than the number of persons in the labour force. It states: "There were 1,133,000 employed persons in April 2014, which was 25,700 more than the 1,107,300 recorded in April 2013." It goes on to state: "The unemployment rate for April 2014 was 13.6 per cent compared to 16.3 per cent in April 2013. In the same period, the unemployment rate for males and females declined moving from 12.0 per cent to 10.4 per cent and 21.3 per cent to 17.4 per cent, respectively."

Youth unemployment

STATIN also reports on youth unemployment: "Unemployment rates among youths aged 14-24 years were 33.6 per cent for April 2014. This was a decrease of 4.9 percentage points when compared with 38.5% in April 2013. The male unemployment rate for youths was 26.2 per cent compared to 43.9 per cent for females."

Since the vast majority of your readers are unlikely to wade through government publications to unearth statistics on the economy, it is vital that you be accurate in your attempt to disseminate such vitally important information. Statistics like these show the benefits of the economic programme adopted by the Government.

PETER-JOHN GORDON

peterjohn.gordon@uwimona.edu.jm

Dept of Economics, UWI