Females spur post-COVID-19 employment resurgence
A female worker employed in the food sector. (Photo: JIS)

Female workers have been leading their male counterparts in the out-turns recorded in several areas of notable improvements fuelling Jamaica's post-COVID-19 employment resurgence.

The country's spiralling employment rate, expanding workforce and rapidly plunging unemployment rate have been largely attributed to significantly increased female out-turns.

Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) April 2023 Labour Force Survey show that despite trailing their male counterparts in the overall number of persons employed, women accounted for the greater percentage increase in the number of individuals securing jobs for the review period.

The findings indicate that the employed labour force in April 2023 totalled 1,316,200 persons, the highest level on record.

This was an increase of 43,300 or 3.4 per cent over the 1,269,300 recorded for the corresponding period last year. The latter figure represented an increase of 63,600 or 5.2 per cent.

The total number of males in jobs as at April this year was 705,200 as against 607,400 females, representing a sizeable differential of 97,800.

However, a breakdown of the out-turn for the number of additional persons employed showed that females outpaced males, representing a continuation of the trend that gained momentum in 2022.

According to the Statin Survey, 29,700 additional females secured employment as at April 2023, representing a 5.1 per cent increase, while the male equivalent was 13,600 or two per cent.

The corresponding figures for 2022 saw the male out-turn totalling 691,600, an increase of 29,700 or 4.5 per cent.

The female equivalent rose by the higher figure of 33,600 or 6.2 percentage points, albeit the overall number of women in jobs being 577,700.

Women again dominated the increases recorded in the employed labour force by occupation and industry groups.

The largest increase for the occupation group was recorded in the category 'Service Workers and Shop and Market Sales Workers', which rose by 27,700 persons or 9.8 per cent to 311,600.

Female employment in this group increased by 16,700 or 9.2 per cent, as against 11,000 or 10.7 per cent for males.

'Real Estate and Other Business Services' recorded the largest industry group increase of 15,300 or 12.1 per cent, to propel that category's employee complement to 141,600. Females accounted for 71.2 per cent of the increase, equating to 10,900 individuals.

Meanwhile, the number of unemployed persons in April 2023 fell by 19,700 or 24.3 per cent to 61,300.

This was spurred by a massive drop in the number of unemployed females from 47,200 to 36,400, while the male equivalent fell by 8,900 or 26.3 per cent to 24,900.

The number of unemployed youth, 14 to 24 years, decreased by 6,800 or 21.7 per cent to 24,600.

Consequent on these out-turns, Jamaica's unemployment rate dipped to a record low 4.5 per cent in April 2023, 1.5 percentage points lower than the corresponding out-turn last year.

The female unemployment rate was 5.7 per cent, while there was a 3.4 percentage points out-turn for males.

The equivalent youth rate was 12.2 per cent, 3.3 percentage points below the April 2022 out-turn.

Statin indicated that the female youth unemployment rate was 12.3 per cent, and 12 per cent for males.

Females also accounted for the larger decline in the number of persons categorised as being outside the labour force.

The overall figure in April 2023 decreased by 20,700 or 2.8 per cent to 725,700.

A total of 425,500 women were determined to be outside the workforce, representing a decline of 17,100 or 3.9 per cent. The male equivalent fell by 3,600 or 1.2 per cent to 300,200 persons.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness welcomed further reduction in Jamaica's unemployment rate to a record low 4.5 per cent.

Holness, who described the announcement as "great news", said this means that "we are now close to full employment", adding that "our economy continues to expand".

"But what it really means is that more Jamaicans have income. It means that more Jamaican families can do much better than they were doing before. This is the best news that our economy can have," he added.

Director general, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr Wayne Henry, said the out-turn for the number of persons securing jobs "officially confirms that the Jamaican labour force has fully recovered from the impact of COVID-19, surpassing the [pre-pandemic] high by 39,900 persons".

"Of note, since the sharp downturn in employment recorded in the height of the pandemic, specifically between January and July of 2020 when 151,100 fewer persons were employed, the country has since gained an additional 191,000 employed persons," Dr Henry added.

Meanwhile, Bank of Jamaica Governor Richard Byles described the new unemployment low as "a momentous achievement for the Jamaican economy".

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