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New Unemployment Figures Released

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Contact: Janelle Charles

PE02039A.gif (1472 bytes)January 18, 1999 - Statistical evidence indicates that unemployment figures for 1999 will continue to contract given the strong performance of the construction sector. That’s according to the Director of Statistics Edwin St. Catherine.

1997 saw a significant increase in unemployment. In the last half of that year the unemployment rate increased to 22 percent. But last year saw a contraction in unemployment rates reducing it to 20.7 percent in the last half of 1998. That was due in part to employment generated by the Short Term Employment Programme - STEP - and a boast in the construction industry.

Given these recent trends Mr. Catherine believes that the unemployment figures will not escalate. Mr. St. Catherine adds there has been some structural changes in the economy as it relates to the contribution of Tourism and Agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product.

He noted that while Agriculture’s contribution to the GDP is contracting and that of Tourism is increasing, the hospitality sector has not peaked to the position the Agriculture industry once occupied about five years ago.  In addition Agriculture continues to employ 22 percent of the Labour Force and as such has a greater reach and impact than tourism.

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