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St Lucia records slight decline in unemployment rate
The St Lucia government says it is encouraged by a decrease in the unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2017 and has renewed its commitment to help create more employment opportunities on the island.
“We are currently working on a comprehensive incentives package which will create employment within the private sector and provide much needed support to businesses within St Lucia,” said Prime Minister Allan Chastanet.
According to the figures released by the Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate is 20.1 per cent as compared with 22.1 per cent for the same three month period last year.
The figures show that youth unemployment had declined from 1,700 last year to 10,700 this year.
According to the latest statistics report, St Lucia has seen increased activity in the areas of tourism, accommodation and food service activities as well as increased employment in construction, financial services, education and manufacturing.
In his budget presentation last month, Chastanet said his administration, which celebrated its first year in office in June, was working towards an unemployment rate of no more than 15 per cent by 2021.
St Lucia has not experienced such a low unemployment rate since 2007.
But even as he welcomed the new unemployment figures, Prime Minister Chastanet said his government remains very concerned about the figures as it relates to youth unemployment and the issue of under-employment as well as the employability of the St. Lucia workforce.
“The government is equally concerned about the latest figures as it relates to young men with the youth unemployment rate rising among males in first quarter from 35.3 per cent in 2016 to 41.6 per cent in 2017 as compared to young women where it decreased for the same quarter from 39.2 per cent to 35.6 per cent.
“The latest report also tells us that St. Lucia currently has a working age population of 145,000 with the labour force participation rate of 69.8 per cent,” he said.
While addressing some of these issues in this year’s budget, Prime Minister Chastanet noted that St. Lucia had room to grow.
“Over the past decade our unemployment rate has increased significantly from 14 per cent in 2007 to above 20 per cent where it has stubbornly remained,” he added.
Chastanet said he remains optimistic that in the coming months, more people will be trained and employed in a variety of sectors including information technology, tourism, agriculture and infrastructure.
The government said it is also excited about the National Apprenticeship Programme and new agricultural opportunities for generating income and employment in rural areas by expanding and diversifying production. CMC