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Poverty rate fell by 40 per cent in 2018

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica recorded a 40 per cent drop in the poverty rate in 2018, the lowest in 10 years.

This was disclosed by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, in a statement to Parliament on Tuesday.

“In 2018, the poverty rate was 12.6 per cent, a decline of 6.7 percentage points relative to 2017… . This is the lowest rate of poverty since 2008,” he said.

Noting that the figures are contained in the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, Dr Clarke said this decline may be attributed to an increase in real gross domestic product (GDP), an increase in employment, an increase in the proportion of households in the lower quintiles that received remittances, as well as a slowing in the rate of inflation.

“The overall reduction in poverty for 2018 was driven by declines in all three regions. The greater Kingston metropolitan area registered a poverty rate of 9.2 per cent, other urban centres, 12 per cent, and rural areas, a poverty rate of 15 per cent. Decreases of 8.5 percentage points were recorded in the greater Kingston area, 7.8 per cent in other urban centres and 5.2 percentage points in rural areas,” he noted.

Turning to the main economic factors accounting for the overall decline in poverty, Dr Clarke told the House that in 2018, Jamaica's economy recorded a GDP growth rate of 1.9 per cent, the sixth consecutive year of growth and the highest annual growth rate in 12 years.

“The out-turn for 2018 also marked the first time that Jamaica's GDP level surpassed the levels recorded prior to the global financial crisis,” he pointed out.

In addition, he noted that the Mining and Quarrying industry grew by 33.8 per cent relative to 2017, which represented the strongest growth rate of the mining sector since 1989.

Further, the agriculture industry, after a contraction in 2017, which was due to widespread flooding, rebounded to expand by 4.1 per cent in 2018.

Additionally, the finance minister pointed out that the construction industry recorded a growth rate of 3.3 per cent, “largely on account of the record infrastructure spending and the public infrastructure works undertaken by the Government in that year”.

Also, remittance inflows in 2018 rose to US$2,345.8 million, compared with US$2,305.3 million in 2017.

Dr Clarke pointed out that in the midst of negative developments coming from COVID-19, “it is good and reassuring to know that as this Government carried on with the right economic policies that created jobs, reduced debt that provided more economic opportunities for all Jamaicans, the poverty rate was also declining and declining at a rapid rate”.

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