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Jun 28, 2017

S.I.B. Tracks More Economic Activity, But Also More Unemployment

Prices for goods and services shot up considerably in May of this year when compared to the same period last year. Consumers were hard hit on the pocket due to higher transportation costs occasioned by an increase in the price of fuel.  Transportation prices increased by eight point three percent from May 2016 to May 2017; the biggest increase was in the price of premium gasoline followed by the price of diesel.  Unemployment rate also went up, but there was some good news in the agricultural sector.  The figures we released today by the Statistical Institute of Belize. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The recent flood of graduates, those completing secondary and tertiary education, will see a greater demand for employment opportunities across the country in the weeks ahead.  With an unemployment rate of nine percent as at April, a slight increase over the same period in 2016, it is expected that the annual surge of immediate past students will add to the growing number of persons that are jobless.


Curwen Arthurs

Curwen Arthurs, Statistician, SIB

“Looking at the unemployment rates, with last year’s rate of eight percent which was one of the lowest in almost a decade, it was expected that, or we were expecting that the rate would have raised, increased since then, experiencing such a low rate.  So this time around we saw that the rate increased marginally by nine percent and this was because the labor force was growing at a pace [that’s] a bit faster than persons were actually gaining jobs.  So that little bit faster increase in the size of the labor force and the amount of jobs being created not matching up caused the marginal increase in the rate.”


The number of persons in the labor force in April, stood at one hundred and sixty-four thousand, nine hundred and thirty-five men and women.  That’s an increase of five thousand, two hundred and eighty-six, a majority of whom are males.  Of interest is that the working class is comprised of forty-three percent of workers with a primary level education.


While unemployment has risen marginally, Belize’s level of economic activity has increased by roughly two point one percent in the first quarter.


Jefte Ochaeta

Jefte Ochaeta, Statistician, SIB

“Belize produced goods and services totaling seven hundred and forty-eight point two million dollars which is an increase of fifteen point three million dollars or basically two point one percent from the same period in 2016.  I can tell you that this two point one percent was mainly contributed by an increase in the agricultural sector, where the agricultural sector is contributing one point six percent to the two point one percent increase.”


Several major industries, banana included, have grown within the primary sector.  That area of the economy has expanded by eleven point seven percent.  While banana continues to recover, following Hurricane Earl a year ago, citrus has been struggling.  Production in that field is down considerably, with citrus fruit deliveries plummeting by fourteen percent.


The Export Trade Bulletin, on the other hand, indicates that Belize imported less goods in May 2017.


Tiffany Vasquez

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician, SIB

“Belize’s imports for the period January to May 2017 were valued at seven hundred and thirty-seven point six million dollars.  This is a decrease of four point eight percent, or thirty-six point nine million dollars when compared to January to May 2016.  Total domestic exports for the period January to May 2017 amounted to two hundred and thirty-seven point six million dollars.  This is an increase of twenty-one point eight percent or forty-two point six million when compared to January to May 2016.  This notable twenty-one point eight percent growth in domestic earnings was the result of positive performances for most of Belize’s major exports.”


As far as the consumer price index, the cost of goods and services regularly purchased by Belizean households increased by point seven percent when compared to the same period last year. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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