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.
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 the Bank has provided more than US$500 million of development policy and investment financing in support of private sector led growth, public sector transformation and building social and climate resilience. IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has committed US$127 million (own funds and mobilization) in private sector investments, since 2013, that support inclusive growth and job creation in Jamaica. IFC is also currently managing over US$8 million for five Advisory projects in Jamaica.
The institutional reforms and efforts 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 115.9 percent of GDP in 2017 and is estimated to have further shrunk to 107.8 percent in 2018.
After a drop to 0.7 percent in 2017 - down from 1.4 percent in 2016 mostly due to severe floods and other adverse weather during the first half of 2017, Jamaica’s economy is expected to rebound in 2018 with growth of 1.7 percent. Economic activity in the first half of 2018 has been robust, underpinned by expansion in the mining and quarrying. The tourism sector continues to perform well, buoyed by increases in stop-over visit arrivals. The poverty rate declined from 21.1 percent in 2015 to 17.1 percent in 2016 , and is projected to continue to decline from 2018–20. Total employment grew by 2.3 percent in 2017. Unemployment fell to 9.7 in April 2018 from 12.2 percent in April 2017 while youth unemployment also fell by 3.2 percent to 25.8, the lowest rate since 2007.
Crime and violence levels remain high emphasizing the need to address issues of youth unemployment, education and social cohesion. Stronger and more resilient economic growth is needed to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Last Updated: Oct 01, 2018