Here are the Statistical Institute of Belize's most recent statistics:

  • October 2019 Consumer Price Index
  • October 2019 Merchandise Trade
  • 3rd Quarter 2019 Gross Domestic Product
  • Labor Force Survey - September 2019

Consumer Price Index

CONSUMER PRICES DOWN 0.1% IN OCTOBER 2019: EDUCATION AND FOOD UP; FUEL, RENT AND AIRFARE DOWN

ALL-ITEMS: For the month of October 2019, the Statistical Institute of Belize reported that there was very little change, overall, in the cost of goods and services which are regularly purchased by Belizean households, when compared to October 2018. This was due to higher prices for various food items, electricity tariffs and tertiary education fees being offset by lower prices for rent, fuel and international airfares. The All-Items Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 105.28 for the month of October 2019, a very marginal decrease of 0.1 percent from 105.34 for the month of October 2018 (see Figure 1). The cumulative inflation rate for the first ten months in 2019, when compared to the same period in 2018, stood at 0.2 percent.

FOOD AND NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: The 'Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages' category saw an overall increase of 1.4 percent for the month of October 2019 when compared to October 2018 (see Figure 2). This upward change was due to significant increases in the prices of several fresh fruits and vegetables, including pineapples, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cabbages, onions and lettuce. Also contributing to the rise in this category were meat products, such as pork chops and pig tail, which also recorded higher prices during October 2019. The effect of these increases, however, was partly offset by decreased prices for other items such as ground beef, beef steak, whole chickens, red kidney beans, limes and watermelons (see Table 1).

TRANSPORT: Prices within the 'Transport' category saw an overall decrease of 2.7 percent, balancing out the increase recorded in 'Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages' and making this the main category exerting downward pressure on consumer prices for the month of October 2019 (see Figure 2). This decline was mainly due to lower prices in the 'Fuel and Lubricants' sub-category, as all fuel types recorded price decreases for the month of October 2019. At the pump, the average price per gallon of Premium gasoline went down by 9.6 percent from $11.83 in October 2018 to $10.70 in October 2019, Regular gasoline declined by 7.8 percent from $11.25 to $10.37, and the price per gallon of Diesel fell by 5.9 percent from $10.75 to $10.11 (see Table 1). Also contributing to the fall within the 'Transport' category were international airfares, which were 11.7 percent lower for the month of October 2019 than they were in October of 2018. Notwithstanding these decreases, the cost of maintenance and repairs to personal motor vehicles rose by 7 percent compared to the same month last year.

HOUSING, WATER, ELECTRICITY, GAS & OTHER FUELS: For the month of October 2019, prices for goods and services within the 'Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels' category were 0.8 percent lower than they were during October 2018. This was mainly as a result of a 1.1 percent decrease in average home rental costs, as lower prices where observed in the municipalities of Corozal Town, Belize City, Belmopan City, San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Dangriga Town. However, the effect of this decrease was partially offset by a 5.2 percent increase in electricity tariffs, the result of increased rates which took effect in early 2019. Additionally, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) prices were slightly higher than they were in October 2018, with the average cost of a 100-pound cylinder up by 0.8 percent, from $115.04 in October 2018 to $115.92 in October 2019 (See Table 1).

ALL OTHER GOODS AND SERVICES: Consumer prices across 'All Other Categories of Goods and Services' saw a 0.5 percent rise, on average, for the month of October 2019 when compared to October 2018 (see Figure 2). Increases in prices for men's and women's clothing, tertiary education tuition, motor vehicle insurance premiums and entrance fees to sporting events were the main contributors to the overall rise recorded for this group of categories during the month.

INFLATION RATES BY MUNICIPALITIES: With an inflation rate of 2.7 percent, Orange Walk Town experienced the highest rate of increase in consumer prices in October 2019. Consumers in this town saw above average increases in prices for food items, home rental costs, LPG, and men's and women's clothing. Meanwhile, the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena experienced the lowest inflation rate, with prices going down by 1.9 percent, as consumers in these municipalities saw a larger than average reduction in home rental costs when compared to October 2018 (see Figure 3).

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External Trade Bulletin

IMPORTS DOWN 4%, DOMESTIC EXPORTS DOWN 24.8% IN OCTOBER 2019

IMPORTS

October 2019: For the month of October 2019, Belize imported goods valuing $185.2 million. This represented a 4 percent or $7.8 million decrease from the same month in 2018, when imports totalled just over $193 million (see Figure 1).

Decreasing Categories: Imports of ‘Chemical Products’ fell by almost one-third from $20.9 million in October 2018 to $14.2 million in October 2019, prompted by marked reductions in purchases of fertilizers during the month. Decreased imports of cigarettes and women’s clothing led to a $5.1 million decline in goods destined for the ‘Commercial Free Zones’, from $35.8 million to $30.7 million. The ‘Food and Live Animals’ category also diminished by approximately $5 million, from $22.9 million to $18 million, on account of smaller purchases of wheat seeds and lard (shortening). Furthermore, as a result of a notable drop in imported quantities of regular gasoline, the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category went down by $3.5 million, from $29.9 million in October 2018 to $26.4 million in October 2019. In addition, imports into the ‘Designated Processing Areas’, formerly the “Export Processing Zones’, fell by almost one-half or $1.9 million, from $3.9 million to $2 million, as the country imported less filtering machinery, shrimp feed and pressure tanks in the month of October 2019 (see Figure 2).

Increasing Categories: Notwithstanding the overall decline, imports of ‘Machinery and Transport Equipment’ rose substantially by $11 million in October of this year, from $34.3 million to $45.3 million, when compared to that same month last year. Goods such as computers, water filters and aircraft engines, were among the most notable high-value purchases. In addition, with greater imports of treated pine lumber, the category of ‘Crude Materials’ grew from $3 million in October 2018 to $4.9 million in October 2019, while larger imports of gold jewellery and wrist watches led to a $1.1 million increase in the ‘Other Manufactures’ category, from $13.5 million to $14.6 million (see Figure 2).

FIRST TEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise imports for the first ten months, January to October 2019, amounted to $1.6 billion, representing a 2 percent or $31.4 million increase from the same period last year.

Increasing Categories: Among the increased categories, there was considerable growth in imports of ‘Manufactured Goods’, ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’, ‘Commercial Free Zones’, and ‘Crude Materials’, when compared to the first ten months of 2018. The ‘Manufactured Goods’ category rose by more than $14 million, from $204.2 million to $218.5 million, as a result of heightened imports of metal structures, ceramic tiles and vehicle tyres, while an increase in the quantities of diesel and kerosene fuels imported led to a $13 million spike in the ‘Mineral Fuels and Lubricants’ category, from $233.7 million in 2018 to $246.7 million in 2019. Imports into the ‘Commercial Free Zones’ also went up notably, growing by $8.3 million from $261.6 million to $269.9 million, owing mostly to bigger purchases of clothing and tennis shoes. With boosted imports of treated pine lumber as well as fruit seeds, the ‘Crude Materials’ category increased by almost 25 percent over the ten-month period, from $24.2 million in 2018 to $30.2 million in 2019. Furthermore, as greater quantities of vegetable cooking oils were brought into the country, the category of ‘Oils and Fats’ rose by $2.2 million, from $14.4 million to $16.6 million, while increased imports of lard (shortening) and powdered milk resulted in the ‘Food and Live Animals’ category growing by $2.1 million, from $185 million in 2018 to $187.1 million in 2019.

Decreasing Categories: Despite the increase in total imports, the categories of ‘Other Manufactures’, ‘Designated Processing Areas’ and ‘Chemical Products’ all dropped markedly over the ten-month period. Goods classified as ‘Other Manufactures’ went down by $6.1 million, from $126.3 million in 2018 to $120.2 million in 2019, due mostly to fewer imports of surveying equipment, lamps and lighting fixtures. Imports meant for the ‘Designated Processing Areas declined by $5.7 million, from $33.3 million to $27.6 million, on account of decreased purchases of food processing machinery, filtering equipment and shrimp feed. Additionally, imports of ‘Chemical Products’ shrank by $3.1 million, from $149.5 million to $146.4 million over the period, owing to reduced purchases of fertilizers and herbicides.

EXPORTS

October 2019: Total domestic exports for October 2019 amounted to $26.1 million, down 24.8 percent or $8.6 million when compared to exports for October 2018, which were valued at $34.7 million (see Figure 1).


Decreasing Categories: Differences in the schedule for shipments of crude petroleum between last year and this year were the main cause of the substantial drop in total export earnings for the month. While revenues from imports of this commodity amounted to $8.7 million in October of last year, there were no shipments recorded during October 2019. Exports of bananas also declined during the month, although only minimally, from $8.3 million in October 2018 to $7.7 million in October 2019. However, earnings from other products, saw more noteworthy decreases. Exports of sawn wood fell sharply by $1.2 million, from $1.3 million to less than $0.07 million, while revenues from animal feed dropped from $1.3 million to under $0.3 million (see Figure 3).

Increasing Categories: On the other hand, earnings from exports of citrus, marine products, and sugar all increased during the month. With greater exports of orange concentrate in October of this year when compared to last October, revenues from citrus products went marine products rose by $1.1 million, from $5.8 million in October 2018 to $6.9 million in October 2019, due to better sales of conch and lobster tails, while revenues from sugar exports increased slightly during the month, growing from $2.2 million to $2.7 million (see Figure 3).

Major Destinations: Owing mostly to the fact that no crude petroleum was exported in October of this year, earnings from the CARICOM market declined significantly by more than 50 percent or $7.9 million, from $14.6 million in October 2018 to $6.7 million in October 2019. However, with improved sales of both conch and lobster tails for the month, revenues from the United States of America grew by $1.2 million, from $5.4 million to $6.6 million (see Figure 4).

FIRST TEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR: Merchandise exports for the period January to October 2019 totalled $359.1 million, up 2.3 percent or $7.9 million from the same period last year.

Increasing Categories: Exported quantities of sugar surged by 25.1 percent during the ten-month period, generating an increase of $22.9 million in earnings from this commodity, from $109.4 million in 2018 to $132.3 million in 2019. Revenues from exports of bananas rose by nearly $4 million for ten-month period, from $61.3 million in 2018 to $65.3 million in 2019. Among the commodities classified as other exports, earnings from red kidney beans grew from $7.9 million in 2018 to $11.6 million in 2019, while revenues from marine products went up by $3.4 million, from $31.9 million to $35.3 million, due mainly to favourable world market prices for lobster tails and conch.

Decreasing Categories: Conversely, significant decreases in revenues from citrus and crude petroleum were recorded for the period. Earnings from citrus products declined by 25.8 percent or more than $17 million, falling from $67.3 million in 2018 to less than $50 million in 2019, primarily due to reduced exports of orange concentrate and orange oil. Due to variances in the schedule of crude petroleum shipments, there were two shipments made during the first ten months of 2019, compared to three shipments made during the same time period in 2018. As a result, earnings from this commodity fell steeply by 47.5 percent or $11.7 million, from $24.6 million in 2018 to $12.9 million in 2019.


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Gross Domestic Produce 3rd quarter 2019

ECONOMY GROWS 1.8% IN THIRD QUARTER 2019

The Statistical Institute of Belize’s latest economic estimates indicate that, for the period July to September 2019, the country’s total level of economic activity grew by 1.8 percent when compared to the same three months of 2018. The total value of goods and services produced within Belize during this period was estimated at $663.1 million dollars, an increase of $11.5 million from the $651.6 million produced in the third quarter of 2018 (see Figure 1).

This growth experienced for the third quarter was due to increased production within the secondary and tertiary sectors, while primary activities contracted during the period. The primary sector declined by 4.3 percent, mainly due to a drop in both banana production and marine exports. Activities within the secondary sector grew by 4.5 percent, as manufacturing and electricity and water generation increased. Tertiary activities rose by 1.9 percent, due to growth experienced in the wholesale and retail trade, and transport industries (see Figure 2).

PRIMARY ACTIVITIES: The primary sector, which accounts for about one tenth of the country’s economic activity, declined by 4.3 percent when compared to the same period of last year. Dry weather conditions affected banana production, resulting in a decrease in output from 25 thousand metric tons in the third quarter of 2018 to 22.9 thousand metric tons in the third quarter of 2019 (see Figure 3). Despite a strong performance in lobster tail and lobster meat exports, the fishing industry also experienced a 37 percent decrease, as no conch was exported during the quarter and shrimp exports dropped considerably by 76 percent. These reductions in banana and marine production overshadowed growth recorded in the livestock, sugarcane and citrus industries. The livestock industry recorded a marginal 0.5 percent increase for the quarter, with increased market demand driving an 8.3 percent rise in poultry production and a 1.6 percent increase in pig production, while a combination of dry weather conditions and a decrease in market prices led to a 27.1 percent drop in cattle production. On the other hand, an extended milling season lasting into the month of July of 2019 resulted in an additional 81.5 thousand metric tons of sugarcane being delivered, compared to the third quarter of last year. Furthermore, a late start to the harvesting period for the first crop of oranges resulted in a slight 0.8 percent increase in citrus fruit deliveries in the third quarter.

SECONDARY ACTIVITIES: The secondary sector, which accounts for almost one fifth of the country’s economic activity, grew by 4.5 percent during the third quarter of 2019. Due to the additional sugarcane deliveries during the period, the sugar industry saw production totaling 9,080 metric tons, while no production was recorded for the third quarter of 2018. The ‘Electricity and Water’ subsector recorded a 10.7 percent increase in total output (see Figure 4). Prolonged dry weather conditions drove an increase in the demand for water, resulting in a 9.1 percent rise in water production, while electricity generation rose 11.9 percent due to increased production by non-hydroelectric power producers. Despite the continued natural depletion of crude petroleum and a 1.6 percent drop in flour production, the ‘Manufacturing and Mining’ subsector experienced growth of 11 percent. Due to a rise in citrus deliveries, an additional 14.8 thousand gallons of orange concentrate was produced during the quarter, while soft drink and beer production also recorded increases due to a rise in market demand during the period. The ‘Construction’ subsector saw an 18.3 percent decline in production, as reflected in a substantial drop in loans for construction for the third quarter of the year.

TERTIARY ACTIVITIES: The tertiary sector, which accounts for about a half of Belize’s total economy, grew by 1.9 percent in comparison to the third quarter of 2018. ‘Wholesale and Retail’ activities rose by 1.2 percent during the quarter, while ‘Government Services’ increased by 4.6 percent. The ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’ subsector also expanded by 4.2 percent, mainly due to a 2.7 percent rise in freight shipping. On the other hand, the ‘Hotels and Restaurants’ subsector decreased by 11.1 percent in the third quarter. Tourist arrivals were down as the total number of overnight visitors to the country fell from 102,599 persons in the third quarter of 2018 to 98,605 persons in the same period of 2019, while cruise ship arrivals were down by 20.7 percent from 240,484 to 190,610. These reductions in the number of visitors corresponded to a 6.2 percent fall in hotel revenues as well as 13 fewer cruise ship calls during this period (see Figure 5).

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September 2019, Labor Force Survey

DESPITE 5,600+ NEW JOBS, UNEMPLOYMENT RATE INCREASES TO 10.4% IN SEPTEMBER 2019

Unemployment: The level of joblessness in the country increased by 2.7 percentage points to 10.4 percent between the April and September 2019 rounds of the Labour Force Survey. This was primarily due to more persons, especially women, entering the labour force than there were new jobs available. Overall, the number of unemployed persons rose by 6,191 persons, from 13,658 in April to 19,849 in September. Of these, almost three-quarters or 4,554 were females.

Following record low estimated unemployment levels in April 2019, the unemployment rate in the country’s urban areas went up from 8.0 percent to 10.5 percent in September 2019, while the level of joblessness in rural areas increased from 7.4 percent to 10.3 percent. Between the sexes, males experienced an increase in unemployment from 5.2 percent in April 2019 to 6.6 percent in September of this year, while unemployment among females increased from 11.2 percent to 15.7 percent.

Across the districts, all except Cayo and Toledo experienced increases in the level of joblessness between the two periods. The Belize district registered the highest unemployment rate for September 2019 as well as the sharpest increase, as joblessness almost doubled from 6.8 percent to 12.5 percent (see Figure 1). In contrast, The Toledo district, where many households continue to rely on subsistence farming for a living, registered the lowest levels of unemployment for the September LFS round, with joblessness decreasing from 6.0 percent in April 2019 to 5.4 percent in September 2019.

Labour Force: As of September 2019, the national labour force was estimated at 190,307, a net increase of 11,808 persons across the country since April 2019. Most of the new entrants were females, with 8,583 joining the work force over the five-month period. As a result, women comprised about 42 percent of the labour force in September 2019, up from 40 percent in April. The largest number of new entrants, a total of 4,961, came from the Cayo district, followed by 3,490 from the Toledo district. Nonetheless, the Belize district continues to account for the largest share of persons in the labour force at 33.3 percent. In terms of educational attainment, about 44 percent of persons in the labour force had completed no more than a primary level education, while just under one-fourth had attained a secondary level education and about 17 percent had completed tertiary level studies.

About 70 percent of the working age population, persons aged 14 and older, participated in the work force in September 2019. Labour force participation among women saw a marked increase from 53.1 percent in April to 58.9 percent in September of this year. Men continued to have higher levels of participation, as 81.4 percent of working aged males were participants in the labour force. The highest participation rates were observed among persons aged 35 to 44 years at 87.1 percent. Males in this age group were almost fully engaged in the labour force, participating at a rate of 98.9 percent, while this age group also had the highest female participation rate at 75.6 percent.

Employment: Approximately 170,458 persons held jobs in September 2019, which represents a net increase of 5,617 persons being employed since April 2019. Both sexes benefited from jobs created over the period, with 1,588 more men becoming employed and 4,029 more women obtaining jobs. Among the employed population, the largest share (27.6 percent) was comprised of persons who were between the ages of 25 to 34 years, closely followed by persons aged 35 to 44 years, which made up 23.2 percent of all employed persons.

Among the ten major occupation classifications, the largest gains in employment were seen in ‘Services and Sales Workers’ and ‘Elementary Occupations’, with these two categories combined accounting for a half of all jobs in the country. Most new jobs were found in the Cayo district, particularly in the ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade’ and ‘Tourism’ industries. These two industries also contributed the largest numbers to total employment within the country, with 18.3 percent of all jobs being in ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade’ and 17.2 percent being provided by the ‘Tourism’ industry (see Figure 3).

Paid employees accounted for 62 percent of all employed persons in September of 2019, down from 67 percent in April, while the shares comprised of self-employed and unpaid family workers both increased (Table 1). This indicates that a significant number of persons in the labour force have created employment for themselves in areas such as ‘Services and Sales’, ‘Elementary Occupations’, and ‘Agricultural and Related Activities’ by opening their own businesses.

The median monthly income for September 2019 was $1,134, a decrease of $110 since April 2019, as there were fewer jobs in the higher paid categories such as ‘Managers’ and ‘Professionals’, and more jobs created in the ‘Skilled Agriculture Workers’ and ‘Elementary occupations’ categories. The highest paid jobs were observed in the ‘Government Services’ industry, which provides jobs to 9.4 percent of all employed persons and had a median income of $1,681 monthly.

Underemployed: The total number of underemployed persons, those usually working less than 35 hours per week, was 38,769 in September 2019, a sharp increase of more than 13,000 persons since April 2019. The most significant increases in underemployment were seen among females with jobs in ‘Services and Sales’, ‘Elementary Occupations’, and ‘Agriculture Workers’. Females continued to be twice as likely to be working less than full time hours, with 33 percent of working women classified as underemployed, compared to 16 percent among their male counterparts. Across the districts, Toledo showed the highest levels of underemployment at 36.7 percent of the employed population, while Stann Creek district registered the lowest at 13.8 percent. In September 2019, underemployed persons worked an average of 17 hours weekly and had a median monthly income of $620.


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You may download the entire series for both External Trade and CPI in Excel format from the Statistical Institute of Belize website: (http://www.sib.org.bz/statistics)