By Aaron Humes: The Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) released a battery of economic statistics during a press conference today in Belize City.
The big headline is that the economy shrank 2 percent in the first quarter, primarily due to a slowdown in agriculture, marine production and manufacturing, which form part of Belize’s primary and secondary industries.
Meanwhile, inflation continues to rise against last year’s figures, by 1 percent on average.
All municipalities recorded an increase in consumer prices during the month of May 2016. Corozal Town and Punta Gorda had the highest inflation rates, both at 2 percent; San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town and Dangriga had the lowest rates of inflation for the month, at only 0.4 percent each.
Meanwhile, after four months of poor performance on both sides of the trade balance, both imports, by 8 percent, and exports, by 17 percent rose in May. However, Belize’s “big five” exports have still performed poorly in the first five months of the year, as compared to only a slight decrease for imports, which slipped by just 3 tenths of a percent.
So how is all of this affecting employment? In April 2016 there were a total of 146,918 employed persons in the country of Belize. This represented a considerable increase of 8,773 persons over April of 2015, when a total of 138,145 employed persons was recorded. The national unemployment rate stood at 8 percent, down 2 percentage points from April 2015, and was the first single digit unemployment rate recorded in almost a decade. The median monthly salary for employed persons was $1,192, almost unchanged from one year ago. The September unemployment rate was 10.2 percent.
Continuing trends include more women being unemployed and underemployed; more men than women got jobs in the year since the last April Labour Force Survey.