As globalization, free trade and regional integration advance, there is an increased demand for readily available labour market information. Labour, but particularly income and employment indicators are critical in analysing economic and social progress at both the macro and the micro levels. Without these, no meaningful assessment of development performance is complete. Therefore, it is critical for each country to have timely information on labour and income aspects of the development process. This includes information on job losses and job creation, aggregate shifts in the allocation of labour between sectors and occupations, vacancies and job seekers, the quality of (new) jobs, the social costs of the transition process - including changes in income levels - and other information indicating how businesses and people are faring.
The ILO recognizes the importance of labour market information in the development process and has consistently provided assistance to Caribbean countries in this area throughout its existence, with the support of its various development partners.
In the most recent effort, the ILO implemented its Caribbean Labour Market Information System (CLMIS) Project from 2002-2005 with funding from the United States Department of Labor. The project aimed to develop and strengthen national labour market information systems to generate reliable, timely and internationally-comparable labour statistics for use by governments, policymakers, employers and trade unions. For example, a Labour Force Survey was designed for Saint Kitts and Nevis and Occupational Wage Survey designs were developed in Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles and Trinidad and Tobago. The Bahamas and Guyana have since consistently implemented their annual Occupational Wage Surveys.
Building on the achievements of prior efforts, the ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean started the implementation of a project aimed at the harmonization of Labour Force Surveys in the region. The project includes the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago and is being implemented in close collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat and its Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians. This effort includes the production of statistics on under-employment and informal employment using the harmonized Labour Force Surveys (LFS). In the context of the technical assistance provided, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Suriname implemented their first measurement of the informal sector using the LFS in 2007.
Currently, technical assistance is being provided to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to strengthen their labour market information system as a pilot project to develop labour market information systems in all the OECS countries.