Statistical Institute of Belize reports sluggish economy in second quarter

Wednesday, August 26, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Belize’s economy contracted in the second quarter of 2015, by 1.6%, reported the Statistical Institute of Belize, but overall growth was recorded for the first half of 2015 at 2.7%.SIB

Both the primary industries such as agriculture and fishing and secondary industries, mainly manufacturing, recorded decreases of 9.4% and 10.8% respectively. The big three of sugar, banana and citrus continue to ail for various reasons, and their feeding into manufacture of other goods resulted in sharp drops. Petroleum also continues to slump at 17.1%.

In the tertiary sector, the only people with anything to smile about are those working in Government services which rose by 10.5%. However, the tourism industry continues to rebound from poor first quarter figures in overnight tourist arrivals.

Turning to the April 2015 Labour Force Survey, 15,544 persons were found to be out of a job, down from 16, 730 at the same time last year and about 10% of all members of the labour force. There is also a high number of persons underemployed – not attached to jobs with their specific skill set. Trends such as more women unemployed than men and youths and other sectors with high rates of unemployment continue.

Belize continues to import more – $1.2 billion or 4.4% more of goods since last year – and export less – just $367 million sent out, mostly in agricultural crops including sugar.

And prices continue to contract, with inflation negative again for July at minus 1 percent, but Belizeans are paying most for the basics – food, clothing and shelter, including the amenities of water, electricity and gas.

Prices are especially down in fuel and some foods, and all municipalities countrywide except for Dangriga are benefiting; the Culture Capital’s prices have gotten 1,8% more expensive. Belmopan has contracted 2.1% since last year.

The last quarterly conference for the SIB is planned for November. It releases monthly statistics.

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