Jamaica is an upper middle income country and the largest in size and population in the English speaking Caribbean. For decades, Jamaica has struggled with low growth, high public debt and many external shocks that further weakened the 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 reverse this trajectory, the Government of Jamaica embarked on a comprehensive and ambitious program of reforms for which it has garnered national and international support: a four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) providing a support package of US$932 million; World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) programs providing US$510 million each to facilitate the GoJ’s economic reform agenda to stabilize the economy, reduce debt and create the conditions for growth and resilience.. In addition, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) will continue to support private sector development.
The reform program is beginning to bear fruit: Institutional reforms and measures to improve the environment for the private sector have started to restore confidence in the Jamaican economy. Jamaica jumped 27 places to 58 among 189 economies worldwide in the 2015 Doing Business ranking, the country’s credit rating has improved and the Government has successfully raised more than US$ 2 billion in the international capital in the markets in 2014 and 2015..
Despite some revival, economic growth is still low: the Jamaican Government is forecasting real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 1.9 per cent for the fiscal year 2015/2016 and the the country continues to be confronted by serious social issues that predominantly affect youth, such as high levels of crime and violence and high unemployment. Jamaica, which had seen its poverty rate drop almost 20 percent over two decades, saw it increase by eight percent in a few years.
The unemployment rate in Jamaica is about 13.2% (April 2015, Statistical Institute of Jamaica ), with youth unemployment more than twice the national rate (38%). However, among Jamaica’s assets are its skilled labor force and strong social and governance indicators.
For more data on Jamaica, visit World Bank's Open Data site.
Last Updated: Sep 10, 2015