By Rochelle Williams
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Jamaica’s economy is estimated to have expanded by 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, signaling the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of finance and the public service, Dr Nigel Clarke, said data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) indicates that by December 2022, Jamaica not only achieved but surpassed pre-COVID levels of growth, which is one fiscal year ahead of projections.
The minister, who was opening the 2023/24 budget debate on Tuesday (March 7) in the House of Representatives, said the economy officially grew by 5.8 percent in the third quarter of 2022; 4.8 percent in the second quarter; and 6.5 percent in the first quarter.
“This follows economic expansion of 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021; 5.9 percent in the third quarter of 2021; and a record 14.2 per cent recovery in the second quarter of 2021,” Dr Clarke noted.
In addition, the minister said the current levels of unemployment are lower than the historic lows achieved immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since we have been measuring it, unemployment in Jamaica has never been lower than the six percent rate achieved in April 2022,” he noted.
Over 150,000 persons lost their jobs during the pandemic, and job creation and restoration have since surpassed that figure.
April 2022 figures show employment at 1,269,300, which is the highest number of persons holding jobs in Jamaica’s recorded history.
Meanwhile, Dr Clarke said the debt level, which reached 110 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the aftermath of the pandemic, is now lower than it was prior to COVID-19.