Economic Outline

flag Jamaica Jamaica: Economic Outline

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to adress the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Jamaica is an upper-middle-income economy that is nevertheless struggling due to low growth, high public debt and exposure to external shocks. The country’s economy was severely affected by the combined effects of the COVID-19 global crisis and the flooding caused by tropical storms, with GDP contracting an unprecedented 10% in 2020. The economy rebounded by 4.6% in 2021 according to the IMF, which forecasts growth at 2.7% in 2022, supported by external demand and tourism revenues (35% of GDP), as well as by strong global demand for agricultural and mining products. Private investment is also expected to pick up through public-private partnership projects. For 2023, the IMF forecasts a growth of 2.4%.

After peaking at 107.4% in 2020, the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio went down to 95.8% in 2021 and is expected to follow a downward trend this year and the next (87.3% and 79.5%, respectively). After recording fiscal surpluses in recent years, declining revenues and increased spending resulted in a budget deficit of 3% in 2020; however, the government returned to a more restrictive fiscal policy in 2021 in order to restore the budget surplus, which stood at 0.8% of GDP. In the same year, inflation picked up to 5.6% (from 5.2% one year earlier) and should stabilize around 6% in the forecast period, mostly as a consequence of the rise in the price of imported energy, impacting household consumption (around three-quarters of GDP). Over the last 30 years, real GDP per capita has increased at an average of just 1% per year, making Jamaica one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world. The USA is the country's main trading partner, biggest lender and main source of remittances from the diaspora. The economy is diverse, but industries lack investment and modernization. The country continues to derive most of its foreign exchange from tourism, remittances and bauxite/alumina.

After declining to a historical low of 7% in 2019, the unemployment rate increased following the COVID-19 crisis. Data from the Jamaican Central Bank shows that as of October 2021 the unemployment rate stood at 7.1%, down by 3.7% year-on-year. In recent years, living conditions have improved in terms of access to basic services, education and health care. Jamaica has been classified as an upper-middle-income country by the World Bank, with a GDP per capita (PPP) estimated at USD 10,294 in 2021 (IMF). According to the latest edition of the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, 12.6% of the population lives below the poverty line, the lowest rate in 10 years.

Main Indicators 20202021202220232024
GDP (billions USD) 13.9715.3916.1016.4416.97
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 5,1035,6155,8705,9846,173
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 108.192.386.279.776.8
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) -0.060.14-0.97-0.85-0.78
Current Account (in % of GDP) -0.40.9-6.0-5.2-4.6

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - October 2021.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Jamaican Dollar (JMD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 3.523.713.803.753.62

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Main Sectors of Industry

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 15.2 16.2 68.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 8.3 20.9 58.2
Value Added (Annual % Change) 8.3 2.4 4.8

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Socio-Demographic Indicators 20222023 (e)2024 (e)
Unemployment Rate (%)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database - Latest available data


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The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 1,473,3831,502,8581,457,011

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

Total activity rate 71.15%70.44%71.38%
Men activity rate 76.49%76.02%77.10%
Women activity rate 65.94%65.01%65.82%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

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Sources of General Economic Information

Main Online Newspapers and Portals
Jamaica Observer
The Gleaner Jamaica
Jamaican Newspapers and News Sites
Jamaica Newspapers
Jamaica News
Useful Resources
Ministry of Finance and the Public Service
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade
Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce
National Bank

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Latest Update: February 2023