Jamaica lagging behind

Commercial Bank (NCB) Group Managing Director Patrick Hylton says Jamaica needs
to urgently plan and implement compulsory strategies if it is serious about
arresting declining productivity levels.

Hylton, said a 2009 study conducted
by the Jamaica Productivity Council (JPC) revealed the country was lagging
behind its Central American neighbours.

According to Hylton, the report,
which covered the period 1972-2007, showed that the average Jamaican worker had
been producing less each year, amounting to a 1.3 per cent decline in output
per annum.

“While labour productivity in
Jamaica has been on the decline over the last three decades, many of our Latin
American and Caribbean neighbours have experienced labour-productivity growth
averaging more than 1.5 per cent per annum over the same period,” said

The group managing director said a
recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank indicated that while Latin
America and the Caribbean lagged significantly behind the rest of the world on
the growth index, Jamaica’s performance put it at the back of the pack.

“In fact, some countries in
the Caribbean such as St Lucia, that were behind Jamaica in labour productivity
as late as 2002, are now ahead, and moving even further ahead,” Hylton

The banker said three of the
sectors reviewed in the JPC’s productivity summary report – agriculture,
forestry and fishing; wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurant services; and
construction and installation had recorded the lowest productivity levels despite
accounting for 72 per cent of total employment.

Hylton also noted that for too
long, many Jamaican businesses accepted poor performance as the norm, simply
because persons had become accustomed to receiving only substandard performance.

He said a great disservice to the
Jamaica workers was done when persons glorified average output, noting the same
workers who migrated to the United States usually achieved higher productivity