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Rural Jamaicans increase consumption - PIOJ

Published:Wednesday | December 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

The Planning Institute of Jamaica's (PIOJ) 2012 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC), which is designed to monitor the social impact of the economic changes, shows that spending on shoes and clothing has plunged by nearly 30 per cent since the last survey in 2011, but shows that real changes in expenditure on food is down by less than five per cent.

It found that consumption has increased in rural Jamaica, compared to a decline in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) and other towns.

All three survey regions recorded nominal increases in mean consumption. However, the KMA registered a real decline, while 'other towns' showed no change and rural areas showed a real increase.

In its executive summary, the PIOJ said that real declines were recorded in five of the 11 commodity groups. These were household durable goods, which was down by 28.6 per cent; health care, which was down by 17.9 per cent; education, down 7.9 per cent; clothing and footwear, down by 6.2 per cent, and food and beverages, down 4.2 per cent."

It added that while KMA and other towns displayed similar patterns of decline, rural areas registered increases in all commodity groups.

While no connection was made, the PIOJ also pointed out that the prevalence of remittance-receiving households was greatest in rural areas, where 46.3 per cent reported receiving such funds. This is in comparison with 41.4 per cent for KMA households and 42.9 per cent for households in other towns.

An improvement in poverty levels in rural areas was attributable to increased agricultural output between 2011 and 2012, and improvements in mining and quarrying between 2010 and 2012.

The survey represents a continuation of the series that began in 1988, with the first published report in 1989. The latest survey points out that in current dollar terms, nominal mean per capita consumption increased by 13.9 per cent to $253, 779, with increases of 11.4 per cent in the KMA to $324, 462; 18.7 per cent in other towns to $261,137, and 24 per cent in rural areas to $206, 327.

"However, in real terms, mean per capita consumption showed little change compared with 2010. Rural areas recorded a real increase of 10.2 per cent, while the KMA registered a decline of 5.2 per cent and other towns remained virtually unchanged," the survey report said.

The PIOJ said that food and beverages, housing and household expenses, and transportation, which have traditionally accounted for the largest shares of household expenditure, showed little change compared with 2010.

"Their shares in mean per capita household consumption were 43.8 per cent, 15.7 per cent and 13.9 per cent, respectively. Regionally, the KMA's expenditure on food and beverages (36.8 per cent) was below the national average, while that for rural areas (49.4 per cent) was above the national average," said the report.

Generally, the PIOJ said, male-headed households recorded a higher level of consumption than female-headed ones, but in the 2012 survey households headed by females showed larger proportionate expenditure on education.

In general, the proportion of households receiving remittances from abroad remained unchanged at 44.1 per cent.