Lockdown sees a sharp increase in unemployment on the Isle of Man, the pandemic yet to impact economic data on the Rock and the Channel Islands

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The Isle of Man has had 336 confirmed cases of COVID-19 of which seven are active.

Economic data to April 2020 has begun to evidence the impact of the pandemic on the Island with unemployment increasing by 1,033 compared with April 2019. This took the rate for April 2020 to 3.1%, an increase of 1.1% from the previous month.

On inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, the rate stands at 0.8% for April 2020, down from 1.8% in March 2020. Three main sectors contributed to the decrease, clothing/footwear, transport, and housing/water/electricity/gas/other fuels.

Clothing/footwear and transport were the two most significant contributors, each responsible for -0.4% of the decrease in the 12-month rate. All men’s, women’s and children’s outerwear prices decreased compared to the same month last year.

Within transport, both air and boat fares have been set to 0% due to lock down measures imposed in response to COVID-19, as most people who leave the Island cannot freely return, rendering current prices invalid for the purpose of calculating inflation.

Prices for other travel costs and petrol/oil fell by -19.4% and -9.5% respectively. 

Gibraltar

With 147 confirmed cases of COVID-19 of which only two are active, and no deaths at all, Gibraltar is returning to normal. A restriction on the size of gatherings remains in place with the limit set at 12 people.

There is little data yet on the impact the pandemic has had on the Rock’s £2.3bn economy with the latest figures showing unemployment (Dec 2019) at an all time low of 40 and inflation (Jan 2020) barely moving to 1.1%. The latest GDP figures (2018/19) showed the economy grew at 5.9%

An indication of the impact, however, is given by the number of passengers and crew from cruise liners who disembarked in March 2020; 2,554 compared with 9,786 in March 2019.

But in a sign of confidence returning to Gibraltar, a local consortium has confirmed plans to invest £30m in building 45 low rise town houses and villas at North Gorge. It followed a meeting between the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, and Patrick Heffron, founder of the UK-based Neptune Group.

Channel Islands

There are four active cases of COVID-19 in Jersey. In total there have been 307 cases and 29 deaths.  There have been no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Guernsey since the beginning of May. In total there have been 252 cases and 13 deaths.

There is little data yet on the economic impact the pandemic has had on the Channel Islands.

On inflation, in the twelve months to March 2020, prices in Jersey (which uses RPI) increased by 0.2% to 2.7%.

The largest contributors were the housing, household services and leisure services groups. In contrast, the cost of clothing & footwear decreased, resulting in a downward contribution to the inflation rate.

Inflation in Jersey over the twelve months to March 2020 was 1.2% higher than the comparable RPI headline rate of inflation for the UK.

Guernsey’s annual inflation rate as measured by the RPIX (excludes mortgage interest payments) was 2.5% in March 2020. This is 0.1% higher than in the previous quarter and 0.4% higher than in March 2019. The equivalent RPIX figure for March 2020 for the UK was 2.7% and for Jersey, 2.6%.

As in Jersey, the leisure services group contributed most at 1.1% with the housing costs group contributing 0.7%.

If RPI is used to measure inflation in Guernsey, the figure is 2.1% which compared with 2.6% in the UK and as stated above 2.7% in Jersey.

Another release of stats showed Guernsey’s total population increased by 0.7% or 469 people over the year ending 30th June 2019. Over the years ending 30th June 2016, 2017 and 2018, the annual changes were 0.1%, -0.3% and 0.5%.

On employment figures, in December 2019, 3,014 people were self-employed and 28,346 people worked for an employer on the Island. The finance sector provided 6,111 jobs or 18.7% of the total.

Also on the labour market, median earnings at 31st December 2019 were £34,160, which compared with a year earlier was 2.7% higher in nominal terms and 0.4% higher in real terms.

On house prices, the average purchase price for Local Market properties in Guernsey was £444,150 in the first quarter of 2020, 0.6% higher than the previous quarter and 4.4% higher than the first quarter of 2019. There were 174 Local Market transactions during the first quarter of 2020, 17 fewer than the previous quarter and three fewer than the same quarter of 2019.

The median price of the 17 Open Market transactions in the first quarter of 2020 was £1,365,000 compared with £1,291,875 in the first quarter of 2019, when there were 18 transactions.

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