The Barbados economy is estimated to have grown by 0.5 percent in 2015, thanks mainly to a stellar tourism performance. There was a 13 percent increase in airlift from major source markets, an expansion in room stock, and refurbishment of aging hotel plant. The tourism outturn was the best on record since 2007, with activity in the sector rebounding to pre-crisis levels. Tourism receipts grew by an estimated 5 percent, with arrivals up by 14 percent, and all major markets recorded double-digit increases.
Tourism was the only sector to record measurable growth. Construction activity is estimated to have decreased by 3 percent, due largely to unexpected delays in the start of major infrastructural projects. The retail, business and other services sectors saw limited spillovers, because there was no impetus from the foreign exchange sectors, other than tourism. The average unemployment rate for 2015 was 11.8 percent, compared with 12.3 percent in 2014. Labour costs are estimated to have risen by 1 percent per year since 2008, while there has been no perceptible increase in productivity. As a result, the large gap between unit labour cost and output per worker persists.