Jamaica is the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean, and the most populated with 2.89 million people. Like its neighbors, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters, in particular hurricanes, flooding, and the effects of climate change. It is an upper middle-income economy that is nevertheless struggling due to low growth, high public debt, and exposure to external shocks.
In 2013, Jamaica launched an ambitious reform program to stabilize the economy, reduce debt, and fuel growth, gaining national and international support.
Public debt fell below 100 percent of GDP in 2018/19 and decline below 60 percent by 2025/26. The employment rate in October 2018 was 8.7 percent, a reduction of 1.8 percentage points relative to 10.5 percent in October 2017, and almost half the rate at the start of the reform program.
The Jamaican economy grew a year-on-year 2.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, bolstered by growth in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining, and quarrying activities. Preliminary estimates for the calendar year 2018 show a 1.9 per cent growth in the Jamaican economy.
Inequality in Jamaica’s is lower than in most countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region, but poverty at 17.1 percent in 2016 is still significant. Stronger and more resilient economic growth is needed to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity. Crime and violence levels remain high, emphasizing the need to address the issues of youth unemployment, education, and social cohesion.
Poverty is expected to decline further on rising per-capita GDP, lower unemployment, and strengthened safety nets.
Last Updated: Apr 01, 2019