Like its neighbors across the Caribbean, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters including hurricanes, flooding and the effects of climate change. It is an upper middle-income country but struggles with low growth, high public debt and external shocks which weaken its economy.
Over the last 30 years, real per capita GDP increased at an average of just one percent per year, making Jamaica one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world.
To stabilize the economy, reduce debt and fuel growth, the government is implementing an ambitious reform program that has garnered national and international support. Since 2013, as part of a comprehensive package of support by WB, IMF and IDB, the Bank has provided more than US$510 million of development policy and investment financing in support of private sector led growth, public sector transformation and building social and climate resilience.
In addition, IFC, a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group, continues to make private sector investments that support inclusive growth and job creation in Jamaica.
The institutional reforms and efforts to improve the investment climate have started to bear fruit. The country’s credit rating has improved and Jamaican bonds trade at a premium in international markets. Public and publicly guaranteed debt fell to 114 percent of GDP by the end of 2017.
Underlining Jamaica’s climate vulnerability, Jamaica’s GDP grew by an estimated 0.5 percent in 2017, down from 1.4 percent in 2016 (a decline due mostly due to severe floods and other adverse weather during the first half of 2017). The economy is expected to rebound in 2018 with growth of 1.7 percent. The poverty rate was estimated to have increased to 15.9 percent in 2015, but with a projected declining path over 2018–20. Total employment grew by 2.3 percent in 2017. Unemployment fell to 10.4 percent in October 2017 while youth unemployment also fell by 7 percent to 25.4, the lowest rate since 2007.
Crime and violence levels remain high emphasizing the need to address issues of youth unemployment, education and social cohesion. Despite progress in maintaining a macro stability and fostering growth, stronger and more resilient economic growth is needed to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Last Updated: Mar 29, 2018