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Gov’t committed to having Saint Lucians “feel the change” of unemployment decline

By SNO Staff

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(SNO) — Buoyed by statistics which show unemployment levels dropped in Saint Lucia in the last quarter of 2018, the government said it is committed to having the ordinary person on the streets feel the change.

Nicole McDonald, senior communications officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, said statistics also showed that the Saint Lucian economy rose by three percent, but the ordinary Saint Lucians are not necessarily feeling it.

“The numbers show we had a three percent economic growth,” she told HTS. “But we still get a sense that people are not necessarily feeling it on the ground…”

But, according to her, with a number of upcoming projects, the Saint Lucians will feel a change.

“You see, with everything that is supposed to happen this year, we have already announced very soon the start of the Hewanorra International Airport, you know our road infrastructure program, Saint Lucians will begin to feel a significant change in economic growth in this country based on those projects alone,” she said.

Statistics from the Central Statistics Department did show there was a decline in unemployment in Saint Lucia in 2018, especially during the fourth quarter, which runs from October to December.

However, on a whole, the unemployment level remained the same in 2018 at 20.2, the same as in 2017.

According to the statistics, unemployment during the last quarter of 2018, when businesses normally takes on extra workers, dropped from 23.7 percent in 2017 to to 16.2 percent in 2018.

During that same period, youth unemployment also decreased from 41.6 percent in 2017 to 33 percent in 2018.

Overall in 2018, youth employment averaged at 36.6 percent in 2018 compared to 38.5 percent in 2017.

In terms of hiring, the retail/wholesale sector led the way in the fourth quarter of 2018 at 18.6 percent, up from 15.8 percent in 2017.

There was a slight dip in hiring in the hospitality and accommodation sector with 15.8 percent in the last quarter of 2018 compared to 16.1 percent in 2017.

McDonald said further unemployment declines are anticipated.

She said the government has started initiatives such as the National Apprentice Program which is focused on training young people in various sectors.

“We have done other things in terms of ensuring that our people get trained and skilled and ready to take on the jobs that are out there,” she told HTS.

She described as “wonderful” and “great” that youth employment has gone down.

“But by no means are we pleased with that,” she remarked.

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