The Statistical Institute of Jamaica reported continued improvements in the jobs picture on Tuesday, with the unemployment rate or EUR down to 6.6 per cent in the July survey of the labour force.

That’s a 1.9-percentage point improvement on the 8.5 per cent EUR recorded in July 2021. But it also represents an uptick in the rate relative to the 6.0 per cent EUR reported in the April survey and 6.2 per cent in January.

A fall in the unemployment rate generally indicates that more persons are finding jobs.

The number of new jobs in the July survey outpaced the growth in the overall labour force. Females fared better in the quarter than males and narrowed the gap in joblessness among the two groups, but the disparity is still wide.

The unemployment rate among women in the July survey improved from 11.1 per cent to 8.2 per cent – a 2.8-point gain – while the male unemployment rate improved by 1.1 percentage points from 6.3 per cent to 5.2 per cent.

Youth unemployment rate for persons aged 14-24 years was 16.7 per cent in July, 7.2 percentage points lower than in July 2021. The unemployment rate for young males improved by 1.1 percentage points to 17.3 per cent, while for young females there was a massive shift 14.8 percentage points, pushing the EUR for that group to 16 per cent this quarter compared to 30.8 per cent a year ago.

In accordance with the improved unemployment rate, Statin reported that there were 42,000 more employed women, representing 79.2 per cent of the total increase in employment, with most taking up jobs in the occupation group ‘service workers and shop and market sales workers’ and the industry group ‘real estate and other business services’. There were 18,800 more employed youth, with females ranging from 20-24 years old accounting for 83.3 per cent or 15,100.

“With exception of the skilled agriculture and fishery workers and elementary occupations, employment in all occupation groups increased in July. Of note, clerks, service workers, shops and market sales workers, craft and related trade workers had the largest increases,” said Statin Director General Carol Coy during the release of the report on Tuesday.

“A comparison with July 2021 data showed that the groups clerks – which include customer service clerks, contact centre clerks and enquiry clerks increased by 25,400 to 132, 400. This was the largest increase in employment among occupation groups. Females accounted for the majority of the increase,” Coy said at a media briefing.

Overall, the employed labour pool amounted to 1.268 million, an increase of 53,000 compared to the similar quarter of 2021.

The overall labour force grew by 30,200 or 2.3 per cent above the comparative period of 2021 to just under 1.358 million. The male labour force had a relatively small increase of 2,800 persons to 726,000, while the female labour force increased by 27,400 or 4.5 per cent to 631,700.