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Job openings top 11.2 million in July, well above estimate and nearly double the available workers Published: 31 August 2022

  • There were nearly 1Mn more job openings than expected in July, an inflationary sign that the U.S. labour market is still extremely tight, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
  • Available positions totalled 11.24Mn for the month, well in excess of the 10.3Mn FactSet estimate, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The total was about 200,000 higher than the 11.04Mn in June, a number revised up from the initially reported 10.7Mn.
  • Federal Reserve officials watch the JOLTS numbers closely for signs of slack in hiring. The July numbers reinforced that there is still a considerable shortage of workers for available positions, with openings outnumbering available workers by just shy of a 2-to-1 margin. That, in turn, is inflationary as employers are forced to offer higher compensation to attract workers at a time when prices are rising near their fastest pace in more than 40 years.
  • Hiring declined during the month, falling to 6.38Mn. Quits, a closely watched metric for worker confidence, also dropped, down to 4.18Mn as those leaving their jobs as a percentage of the workforce declined one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.7%, still relatively high by historical standards.

(Source: CNBC)

Carib Cement Expands Production Capacity   Published: 25 August 2022


  • Caribbean Cement Company Limited (CCC) announced on Wednesday, August 24, 2022, the ground-breaking of its project to expand its production capacity. This expansion aims to increase CCCL’s cement capacity by up to 30% in Jamaica.
  • Through its parent company Cemex, $4.6Bn (US$30Mn) will be spent to expand the plant in Kingston at the Rockfort-based facility.
  • The expansion is expected to position the company to comfortably supply the Jamaican market in the coming years, while likely generating some spare capacity for export purposes according to Caribbean Cement General Manager Yago Castro.
  • Management also believes the plant upgrade will enable CCC to produce more clinker and unleash the last portion of its cement production capacity drive from over one million tonnes to close to 1.4 million tonnes a year.
  • The Rockfort plant is the sole manufacturer of cement, but a small portion of the market is supplied from imports. This planned increase will strengthen the self-sufficiency of the national cement industry, reduce dependency on cement imports, and reinforce Carib Cement’s ability to serve the growth of the construction sector in Jamaica and the Caribbean. This will also drive the company’s revenues and increase shareholder value.

(Sources: JSE and NCBCM Research)

BOJ Forecasts Weaker Lending  Published: 25 August 2022

  • The central bank is projecting weaker growth in deposit takers' offerings of private sector credit over the next eight quarters.
  • In its quarterly Monetary Policy Report for the June quarter published on August 19, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) stated that private sector credit is projected to grow at an average rate of 8.1% up to the June 2024 quarter, compared to the previous forecast, for an expansion of 10.0%.
  • It noted that the projected annual expansion over the near term reflects a slightly less optimistic economic outlook amid the continued recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
  • "The weaker growth, relative to the previous forecast, is influenced by the impact of contractionary monetary conditions," the BOJ said, pointing out that this followed its decision to further increase the policy rate in the June 2022 quarter.
  • With lending institutions beginning to pass on the policy rate increases to the price of loans, the pace of loan growth is expected to slow.

(Source: BOJ)

Economic Growth In Grenada Set To Recover More Notably In 2023 Published: 25 August 2022

  • Fitch forecasts real GDP growth will slow to 3.5% in 2022 in Grenada. Not only is this down from a 6.6% forecast for 2022, but it also represents a downturn from the estimated growth of 5.6% in 2021 and comes in below the average growth of 3.9% registered from 2015 to 2019.
  • Elevated inflation will weigh on real household disposable incomes in Grenada in the coming months, dragging on private consumption growth. In addition, inflation will rise from an estimated average of 1.2% in 2021 to 6.0% in 2022, reflecting the impact of elevated global oil prices. 
  • Fitch expects that the tourism sector will be a key driver of growth in 2022, but will remain far off a full recovery from the pandemic. Furthermore, elevated inflation in key source markets -the United States (7.7% in 2022), the UK (9.0%), and Canada (7.0%) - which together normally provide around 80.0% of Grenada's arrivals - will prevent a more notable recovery in the sector.
  • Tourism accounts for 80.0% of exports in Grenada, with below-trend arrivals and a higher energy import bill set to increase the negative contribution of net exports to growth. Over 25% of employment in Grenada comes from tourism, and Fitch anticipates that high unemployment will prevent a larger uptick in consumer spending. 
  • However, several factors will prevent a larger slowdown in economic activity in 2022, including an absence of domestic COVID-19 restrictions which should allow commercial activities to run largely as normal. 

(Source: Fitch Solutions)


$1.8 billion Boost to Barbadian Economy Published: 25 August 2022

  • Barbados government is banking on the economy getting a big boost from more than $1.8 billion in infrastructural projects, some of which are already underway and others are being planned.
  • While stating that the economy “has shown promising signs of recovery following the fallout from the pandemic and natural disasters in 2020 and 2021”, the government said “risks of a protracted global economic downturn and elevated global inflation” were a threat to the rebound.
  • However, the government believes some of the risks would be “mitigated by the economic benefits to be derived from the commencement and continuation of several public and private sector capital projects and public-private partnerships (PPPs).
  • These include a multimillion-dollar master plan for the modernisation of the ports of entry over the next ten years, the construction of a cruise terminal at Speightstown, redevelopment of the Shallow Draught Marina; development of a local yachting industry, and expansion and enhancement of the operations of the Grantley Adams International Airport.

(Source: Nation News)

Home Prices Fell For The First Time In 3 Years Last Month – And It Was The Biggest Decline Since 2011   Published: 25 August 2022


  • Home prices declined 0.77% from June to July, the first monthly fall in nearly three years, according to Black Knight, a mortgage software, data and analytics firm. While the drop may seem small, it is the largest single-month decline in prices since January 2011. It is also the second-worst July performance dating back to 1991, behind the 0.9% decline in July 2010, during the Great Recession.
  • The sharp and fast rise in mortgage rates this year caused an already pricey housing market to become even less affordable. Home prices rose sharply during the first years of the COVID pandemic because demand was incredibly strong, supply historically weak and mortgage rates set more than a dozen record lows.
  • Now, housing affordability is at its lowest level in 30 years. It requires 32.7% of the median household income to purchase the average home using a 20% downpayment on a 30-year mortgage, according to Black Knight. That is about 13 percentage points more than it did entering the pandemic and significantly more than both the years before and after the Great Recession. The 25-year average is 23.5%.

(Source: CNBC News)


Inflation Reduction Act Could Curb Climate Damages by Up to $1.9 Trillion, White House Says   Published: 25 August 2022


  • The Inflation Reduction Act, the most aggressive climate investment ever taken by Congress, could cut the social costs of climate change by up to $1.9 trillion by 2050, the White House said in an assessment on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
  • The Act, which the president signed into law earlier this month, will reduce costs related to rising temperatures, minimize property damage from sea level rise and other disasters and reduce health impacts like premature death, the White House said.
  • “The Inflation Reduction Act will help ease the burden that climate change imposes on the American public, strengthen our economy and reduce future financial risks to the Federal Government and taxpayers,” Candace Vahlsing, the OMB’s associate director for climate, wrote in a blog post on August 23, 2022.
  • The analysis by the Office of Management and Budget, which administers the federal budget, is the first published estimate of avoided climate-related social costs resulting from legislation. The social cost of carbon is an estimate of the economic costs that would occur from a future level of carbon pollution.
  • The bill’s climate provisions are projected to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030. Early in his presidency, President Joe Biden pledged to reduce U.S. emissions from 2005 levels at least in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

(Source: CNBC News)

Slight Fall in Remittance Inflows in First Half of 2022 Published: 24 August 2022

  • Remittance inflows, which support consumer purchasing power, external account stability and economic growth, fell during January to June of this year, with inflation biting across the world.
  • For the half-year period remittance inflows to Jamaica declined by 2.9%, moving from US$1.76Bn last year to US$1.71Bn this year. Net remittance inflows for the 6 months also declined (3.1% or US$1.59Bn) relative to the same period last year US$1.64Bn). Despite the decline, 2022 remittances (+40.7%) remain above 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels with reported total inflows of US$1.22Bn.
  • Speaking at a press briefing on Friday (August 19), Governor of the Bank of Jamaica Richard Byles indicated that the rise in remittances in 2021 was impacted by Jamaicans who were unable to travel to Jamaica during the height of the pandemic due to the restrictions. With travel rebounding, remittances have come down, but remain strong and are expected to return stronger than pre-pandemic levels.
  • The decline in remittances may also be influenced by the impact of higher inflation and recession concerns in developed countries like the USA and the impact on the spending and saving pattern of Jamaicans in the diaspora.
  • However, on a positive note, the US labour market, of which remitters would be a big part, is still strong relative to pre-pandemic levels, which should support remittance inflows to the country.

(Source: BOJ and NCB Research)


LYNK Seeks to Tap into Multibillion-Dollar Market   Published: 24 August 2022


  • Digital payment wallet, Lynk, is hoping to tap into the multibillion-dollar market of monetary transactions that exist in Jamaica. Digital payment wallets are the platforms used to facilitate transactions of the Bank of Jamaica’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
  • Speaking with JIS News, Chief Growth Officer at Lynk, Denise Williams, said the company is eyeing how they can make a greater impact in the growing digital market. With an injection of more than $250Mn in JAM-DEX incentives into the Lynk ecosystem, along with customers putting cash into their Lynk wallets, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions have taken place on its platform since inception.
  • Chief Product Officer at Lynk, John Matthew Sinclair, said the digital wallet is fairly new to Jamaica and during this stage of the process they do have some limitations.
  • “We do have ambitions to interface with the larger digital wallets in America where we have a large diaspora. Access to that type of network will have benefits to the holder of popular international digital wallets and Lynk,” Mr Sinclair said.
  • “The company (Lynk) has been able to work out the technical hurdles that will allow interoperability locally through the CBDC network, and, eventually, we also aspire to do the same with international wallets-based regulatory approval and international money transfer services,” he added.

(Source: JIS News)

Antigua Registers 7% Increase In Tourist Arrivals In July Published: 24 August 2022

  • Antigua and Barbuda, on Monday, reported a 7% increase in tourist arrivals in July as the country continues to record a “steady rebound” in visitor arrivals in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that had forced the closure of borders.
  • The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) is attributing the 7% growth in air arrivals for the month of July 2022, when compared to July 2019, to increased airlift, aggressive destination marketing, easy travel protocols, the enthusiasm amongst consumers to return to travel, and their eagerness to participate in Antigua’s summer carnival once again.
  • Tourism officials said an influx of visitors from the United States contributed to the increase with arrivals 30% higher than in July 2019. 13,305 of the visitors travelled by air from the United States in July, an additional 3,000 plus when compared to July 2019. There was also growth within the UK market, with an increase of 272 British visitors to the destination leading to a 5% increase in tourism arrivals over 2019; arrivals stood at 5,650 in comparison to 5,378 in 2019. Arrivals from Canada grew by 1% while the Caribbean market saw a decline of 19%.

(Source: Caribbean National Weekly)