When Jamaicans don’t know what they don’t know: Jobs puzzles

I was listening to Beyond The Headlines last night, when I heard the Mayor of Montego Bay complain about many problems in the city, including the level of wages for workers in the tourism sector. He argued that people felt ‘inequity’ because Jamaicans were being paid about 59% less than similar workers in other Caribbean islands.

Let’s not dispute the facts about the pay disparity. But, it’s not inequity that is the problem. It is decades of decline labour productivity, which has been going down at an average rate of about 1/12 percent since the mid-1970s. This was highlight simply in an RJR report early last year. Read it; it’s short and clear.

So, here is the problem. The same way that people who scam or sell drugs or commit other crimes seek to justify that because there’s ‘nothing going on’, is the same way that people like the Mayor see the Jamaican workers’ problems as something others have created. IT. AINT. SO!

I listened earlier to one of the MPs for St. James, Marlene Malahoo Forte, talking about how many young people in the parish are finding jobs but seem unable to adjust to what the jobs require. One young man walked off a job in a cold store room because he was too cold. The MP said the same man was ready to go to work in the USA and deal with harsh winters in the north. Let’s take her story at face value. Go figure!

So, yes, the solutions to crime in Jamaica involve doing much to address social problems, we must also understand that people need to really understand what are their problems. 

Now, in fairness to anyone who is trying to get a job and seems to be doing the best he or she can, it’s hard to accept that it’s not an easy road. But, the inability to understand the bigger realities brings with it the tendency to look for ‘solutons’ that are not right and wont last.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)