This bulletin includes estimates of the latest annual price inflation rates for the third quarter of 2018, calculated from the Retail Price Index (RPI). The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI itself, can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data. Detailed data can be accessed in Excel format here. The pdf version of the full Bulletin can be found here.

Average inflation rate

The latest rate of annual price inflation is estimated to be 4.1%, between the third quarter of 2018 and the third quarter of 2017. This is a 0.7 percentage point increase from the previous quarter, when the annual price inflation rate was measured at 3.4% (Chart 1).

Contributing factors

The two price changes with the most impact this quarter were the increases in the price of water from Connect, and the increase in the local telephone service provided by Sure. There were some other notable price increases, such as flour and soft drinks, but the price of some imported fruit, for example apples and oranges, fell – this is consistent with a reduction in the import duty from 20% to 5% for all fruit and vegetables without added salt or sugar.

There are more than 200 items in the RPI ‘basket’, but some 70% were unchanged in price from the previous quarter. While increases in freight rates for the MV Helena will tend to increase the price of imported goods, the depreciation of the Rand compared to the St Helena Pound over the year (of just over 5%) has the opposite effect, by decreasing their price. The ability of the MV Helena to transport more weight per container may also have helped mitigate the price increases in freight. The prices of goods imported from South Africa and the United Kingdom are also affected by inflation in those economies; in August, annual inflation was 4.9% in South Africa and 2.7% in the UK.

Inflation rates of RPI categories

Average prices for all the categories of the RPI increased compared to the year before (Chart 2) – in other words, inflation rates were all positive. Categories with the highest rates were ‘Communications’, with an annual inflation rate of 10.8% compared to 0.9% last quarter, and ‘Housing’, with a rate of 6.9% compared to 4.5% last quarter. These rates reflect the impact of the increases to the telephone and water tariffs, introduced by Sure and Connect respectively.

‘Household energy’ remains the expenditure category with the lowest annual inflation rate, at 1.4%. This is mainly due to the price for domestic electricity, which accounts for over 85% of the category but whose price has not changed since 2016. The annual inflation rate of food was 2.8%, which means that the average price of food has increased compared to a year ago, but at a slightly lower annual rate than last quarter. This is the result of a combination of factors, including the reduction in import duty from 20% to 5% for all fruit and vegetables without added salt or sugar and the slight fall in the value of the Rand compared to a year ago (which makes imported goods cheaper), offsetting some of the increase in prices caused by changes to freight rates and price inflation in South Africa and the UK.

What is price inflation?

Price inflation is the change in the average prices of goods and services over time. The rate of price inflation is calculated from the change in the Retail Price Index (RPI), which is the official measure of the average change in the prices of goods and services paid by consumers. The RPI is estimated each quarter, or once every three months, and the rate of price inflation is usually quoted on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a twelve month period. Prices and the RPI tend to go up, but they can occasionally go down – which is price deflation.

Why do we measure inflation?

An accurate measure of price inflation helps understand the extent and nature of the impact of price changes on the government, businesses, households and individuals.

How is the RPI calculated?

The basis for the RPI is the average weekly cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, sometimes called the ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food, have the biggest share of the RPI basket. The current RPI uses a basket from the latest Household Expenditure Survey in 2017; prices of the items in the basket are collected every quarter, and the price of the total basket is compared to the price in the baseline period, the first quarter of 2018. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline. For example, an RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the baseline period.

What happens when items are not available?

If an item of the ‘basket’ is not available then either the previous price will be carried forward from the previous quarter, or a suitable substitute item will be identified and an adjustment calculation made. Care is taken to ensure that this substitute item represents the item category and that it does not introduce error to the measurement of the RPI. An important principle is that price changes should reflect actual price increases, and not changes in the quality of items.

Data on Population, including total population and arrivals and departures up to August 2018 have been released on September 25, 2018: Population.

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

As of 18 September 2018, the following files have been updated:

Inflation, including average annual price inflation rates and the Retail Price Index – latest data are Quarter 2, 2018.

Benefits, including total households claiming income related benefits and persons claiming the basic island pension and unemployment benefits  – latest data are August 2018

Construction, including data on building permits and construction activity – latest data are Quarter 2 2018

Population, including births, deaths, total population, and arrivals and departures – latest data are July 2018

Ascension Population, including population figures from Ascension Island – Quarter 2 2018

Exchange Rates, including the value St Helena pound compared to the US Dollar, South African Rand, and the Euro – latest data August 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

This Bulletin presents the latest estimates of the size of the population of St Helena, the number of arrivals and departures (including detailed statistics on arrivals by air), and the number of births and deaths.

The data released in this Bulletin can be downloaded in Excel format from the ‘Population’ file on the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Population estimates

At the end of June 2018 the number of St Helenians on St Helena was estimated to be 4,300, almost 7% higher than at the end of June 2017, and very close to the peak number of 4,334 recorded at the end of December 2017. The estimated number of persons on St Helena, residents plus visitors, was 4,663, is a slight decrease compared to the end of March 2018, but a 5.3% annual increase compared to the end of June 2017.

Arrivals and departures

The total number of arrivals for the second quarter of 2018 was estimated to be 1,093 (see Table 1). This is much lower than the 1,852 arrivals in the first quarter, when both the new scheduled air service and the RMS St Helena were operating. However compared to a year ago, when there were 770 arrivals in the second quarter, it is a significant increase of 323 people or more than 40%.

Of the 1,093 arrivals in the second quarter, 77% (841) arrived by air, with the remainder arriving by yachts or ships, usually in transit to other destinations. As expected, as a result of moving into the off-peak season, the number of air arrivals in the second quarter was around 200 less than the first quarter, when 1,038 people arrived by air. The last and first quarters of each year usually see a larger number of visits, since these are the warmer months on St Helena, and St Helenians living overseas tend to visit during this period (see Chart 2).

Since the scheduled air service began, 30% of all persons arriving by air have been tourists – excluding those St Helenians who live abroad returning for a short-term holiday, who were around 16% of all persons. People returning to their home on St Helena were a further 24%, and those arriving on St Helena for business, including persons and their families recruited overseas to work on St Helena, were 25% (Chart 3).

Within the group of passengers who came to St Helena for a short-term holiday visit, 35% were St Helenian, 22% were British, and 21% were South African – comprising together just under 80% of all arrivals. Of the remainder, most were from countries in Europe (Chart 4).

Further details of air arrivals are given in Table 1, and in the ‘Population’ data file at www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Even though the number of tourists arriving on St Helena was greater than the number of St Helenians arriving for a holiday to visit family and friends, the total number of nights they stayed on the island was less. This is because, on average, visiting St Helenians tend to stay longer than those visiting for tourism purposes (Chart 5).

Table 2 has more details, including totals by quarter and the average length of stay for St Helenians on holiday visits (30 days per visitor) and for non-St Helenian tourists (10 days per tourist). More data, including figures by month from 2010 onwards, are given in the ‘Population’ data file at www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

The total number of departures for the second quarter of 2018 was 1,139, substantially less than the first quarter (1,957) but about the same as the fourth quarter of 2017. This reflects the typical observed seasonal pattern, when St Helenians visiting for the Christmas period return in the first quarter of the year. Just over two–thirds of all departures were people returning to their usual place of residence. Some 14% were people who left to take up an overseas employment opportunity or to emigrate, and a further 10% were residents of St Helena departing for a holiday (see Table 3).

Births and deaths

In the second quarter of 2018, there were a total of seven births and 13 deaths registered on St Helena; this is almost the same as the previous quarter, when there were also 13 deaths, but six births.

However the number of births almost halved compared to the same period of 2017, where 13 births were reported. In recent years, the number of deaths has exceeded births – during the last twelve months, there have been 27 births and 57 deaths.

Two statistical updates have been released on July 11, 2018 as follows:

Production, including animal slaughtering, fish catches and sales, and forestry, to the end of 2017.

Weather and climate, including rainfall, sunshine, wind and humidity, to May 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

About this Bulletin

This bulletin includes estimates of the latest annual price inflation rates for the second quarter of 2018, calculated from the Retail Price Index (RPI). The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI itself, can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Average inflation rate

The latest rate of annual price inflation is estimated to be 3.4%, between the second quarter of 2018
and the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase from the previous annual price inflation rate for
the first quarter of 2018, which was 2.8% (Chart 1).

Inflation rates of RPI categories

The category with the lowest annual inflation rate is ‘Household energy’, where prices at the end of quarter 2 2018 were unchanged compared to a year earlier. This is mostly due to unchanged prices for domestic electricity, which makes up over 85% of items in this group. Since the amount of electricity in the RPI is high (6.4%) based on average household expenditure patterns, this also has an impact on the overall inflation rate, offsetting some of the increases in other categories. ‘Communications’ also had a low annual inflation rate, at 0.9%.

Inflation rates for the other categories were all higher than 3%. Of these, ‘Alcohol and Tobacco’ had the highest rate, at 6.0% (see Chart 2). The annual increase in the price of food also increased quite sharply from 2.9% to 4.1%, and since food has a large weight in the RPI (34.4%, or around a third), this is a major factor in the observed rise in annual price inflation.

It should be noted that there were some changes to the composition of the ‘Communication’, ‘Miscellaneous’, and ‘Household goods and services’ categories as a result of the new classification
introduced for the 2017 Household Expenditure Survey (HES). For instance, non-communication services were previously included in the ‘Services’ category, but are now included in the ‘Miscellaneous’ and ‘Household goods and services’ categories. The previous ‘Services’ category is now ‘Communication’, and it now excludes non-communication services. The report on the 2017 HES results has more details of these changes (see page 8 of the report), including full details of the ‘rebasing’ exercise introduced for the RPI from Quarter 1, 2018. These changes mean than annual comparisons between these three categories should be made with care, since there are slight differences in their composition.

Price changes of selected goods and services

Since St Helena imports many goods from South Africa and the United Kingdom, prices paid by consumers are affected by the prices paid by importers for goods overseas, and the cost of importing those goods to St Helena, including freight rates and customs duties. During the first half of 2018 there were several changes which will impact prices of imported goods, including:

  • Changes to the freight tariff caused by the retirement of the RMS St Helena and the introduction of a replacement shipping service, the MV Helena
  • Changes in the exchange rate of the Pound against the Rand; the Pound strengthened slightly against the Rand towards the end of 2017, although it weakened again in the early months of 2018
  • Price inflation in South Africa, which rose from an annual rate of 3.4% in March to 4.4% in May
  • Price inflation in the UK – annual price inflation fell slightly from a November 2017 high of 2.8% to 2.4% in April and May 2018
  • Changes in customs duty rates from May 1, 2018, including increases to taxes on alcohol and tobacco imports and sugary products including certain fruit juices, drinks, chocolate and confectionery, and decreases to some food and drink items, including water and certain fruit and vegetable products (see http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/changes-to-customs-excise-duty
    for full details).

Together, these factors can have varied and sometimes offsetting impacts on the overall inflation rate on St Helena. For example, significant quarter-on-quarter price increases were observed in sugar and syrup (11.8%), fruit juice (10.7%), and chocolate (10.6%), presumably reflecting the increase in duty rates for these products. At the same time, the recorded price of imported potatoes fell by 7.7% compared to the previous quarter, and imported gas cylinders also fell in price, by 4.4%.

There were also changes in the price of locally produced goods and services. The price of fresh beef, for example, rose by 9.5% compared to the previous quarter. Since beef comprises over 1.5% of the RPI shopping basket, this has a significant impact on the ‘Food’ inflation rate. Health service fees were also increased from 1 April (http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/health-and-social-welfare/feescharges-residents), although the impact of these changes on the inflation rate is relatively small since the combined weight of these items in the RPI basket is just over 0.5%. At the time of writing this Bulletin, there are also proposed increases to the price of water (from 1 July) and telephone calls (August), but these are not included in the second quarter inflation rate calculations; their impact will be measured next quarter, when they are implemented.

Even though there are many factors that affect prices, it should also be noted that between each quarter many prices remain unchanged. This quarter, for example, of the 203 categories in the RPI,
prices in 153 categories – around 75% – did not go up or down compared to the previous quarter. In this quarter in particular, this may be one result of delays in shipments from the United Kingdom, since prices on the shelves may be maintained until new stock arrives.

Rebasing the Retail Price Index

The Statistics Office has recently ‘rebased’ the RPI, using the data collected from the Household Expenditure Survey in November 2017. This involved calculating new expenditure patterns to update the shopping basket, for example adding items which are relevant now (e.g. mobile telephones) and deleting any that are no longer purchased. The calculations in this Bulletin use this new basket; further details are available in the report on the 2017 HES which can be found at http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

Some common questions: what is the Retail Price Index (RPI)?

The RPI is the official measure of the average change in the retail prices of goods and services. It is estimated each quarter, or once every three months. Changes in the RPI measure retail price
inflation, and are usually computed on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a twelve month period. For detailed tables, please visit www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

What is price inflation?

Inflation simply means that something is growing or increasing, but when used in the context of the economy it usually refers to the change in average prices of goods and services over time. On St
Helena, the primary measure of inflation is the RPI, and it is usually quoted as an annual estimate: it is the amount by which the RPI has grown over the preceding twelve months. A decrease in the RPI is also possible, though unusual – over a twelve month period, a drop in the RPI would result in retail price deflation (i.e. a negative inflation rate).

Why do we measure the RPI?

The rate of change of retail prices is an important indicator of economic performance and is used by Government, businesses and society in general. It enables an understanding of the impact of price changes on households and individuals, including for specific groups of goods and services.

How is the RPI constructed?

The basis for the RPI is the average cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, or a weekly ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food,
have a bigger share, or weight, in the RPI basket. The current RPI uses a basket from the latest Household Expenditure Survey in 2017, and baseline prices for that basket were recorded in the first
quarter of 2018 (the full specification of the RPI basket is available in the report on the 2017 HES). Prices are collected every quarter, to calculate the latest price of the RPI basket and to compare that to the price in Q1 2018. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline – the usual notation is to write ‘Q1 2018 = 100’. An RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the base period.

What happens when an item is not available?

If a particular item is not available during a round of price checks, a series of prescribed steps are followed to ensure the RPI measurement is not distorted. An important principle is that price changes should reflect actual price increases, and not changes in the quality of items. If an item is not available then either the previous price will be carried forward from the previous quarter, or a suitable substitute item will be identified and an adjustment calculation made. Great care is taken to ensure that this substitution is similar to the original item, that it represents the item category, and that it does not introduce error to the measurement of the RPI.

Data on the number of people and households receiving social benefits and the Basic Island Pension up to May 2018 have been released on July 3, 2018: Benefits.

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Several statistical updates have been released on June 27, 2018 as follows:

Population, including total population and arrivals and departures, up to May 2018

Ascension Population, up to Quarter 1 2018

Exchange Rates, up to May 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

About this Bulletin

This sixth Statistical Bulletin of 2018 releases new estimates of incomes from employment for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years, together with small revisions to estimates for previous years. The statistics presented are derived from records maintained by the Income Tax Office, and are derived using methodology consistent with previously published estimates for 2011/12 to 2014/15. The data released in this Bulletin can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-dataA PDF version of this Bulletin is available here.

Average gross employee income

The average annual gross income from full-time employment on St Helena, measured using the median of those receiving income above an analysis cut-off and excluding Technical Cooperation Officers, rose in both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years, to £7,640 and £8,230 respectively. The median is the income level at which half of those above it earn more, and half earn less. So for 2015/16 half of gross employment incomes were less than £7,640, and half were higher, and in 2016/17, half were lower than £8,230 and half were higher.
The median income for 2016/17 was 7.7% higher than 2015/16, and the 2015/16 median was 4.5% higher than the previous year. However, these estimates are not adjusted for the impact of price inflation. When this is taken into account, the estimated ‘real’ annual growth in incomes from employment was 3.4% for 2016/17 and 3.1% for 2015/16.
Note that the median is a common measure when estimating average incomes, since the usual alternative – the mean – is too sensitive to small numbers of large incomes. However, the mean is given in Chart 1 and Table 1 for comparison.

Chart 1 also shows the upper and lower quartiles; the lower quartile is the point at which 25% of incomes are lower, and the upper quartile is the point at which 25% of incomes are higher. 50% of incomes lie between the lower and upper quartiles.

As in previous statistical releases on income, these estimates measure gross (before income tax) incomes of the persons in full-time regular employment on St Helena above an analysis threshold. They exclude company and self-employment incomes, incomes of Technical Cooperation Officers, and investment income. The analysis threshold is set at a level around the single-person rate of the Minimum Income Standard (a measure of poverty) for the previous year. Using this threshold helps eliminate part-time incomes and income derived purely from benefits, and incomes that are under reported. Unless otherwise stated, all estimates of personal incomes in this bulletin use these thresholds (see Table 1 for thresholds used each year). All annual estimates are rounded to the nearest 10.

Distribution of incomes from employment

Chart 2 illustrates the distribution of personal incomes from full-time employment in 2016/17. There is less than £4,000 between the medians of the first five deciles – the half of the population with the lowest incomes, and, in contrast, the medians of the half of the population with the highest incomes have a much broader spread of over £13,000.

Differences in average incomes between men and women

The average annual personal incomes of both men and women in full-time employment increased between 2012/13 and 2016/17. But the median income from employment of men was consistently higher than that of women, and around 15% higher for the years 2013/14 to 2016/17 (Chart 3).

The minimum wage and the income tax threshold

St Helena operates a minimum wage policy, and in July 2015 the rate was increased from £2.30 an hour to £2.60 an hour. This equates to £4,875 for 2015/16 and £5,070 for 2016/17, assuming 37.5 working hours a week and pay for all 52 weeks of the year. St Helena’s income tax system also operates a minimum threshold before any tax is due; this taxable income threshold remained constant at £7,000 per person per year for the financial years 2011/12 to 2016/17. Chart 4 shows the number of persons earning income from full-time employment that were above the minimum wage, and the income tax threshold.

The number of employees above the income tax threshold and above the minimum wage has been increasing each year as average incomes have increased. The number between the minimum wage and the tax threshold has fallen, partly due to the 13% increase in the minimum wage during 2015/16.

Methodology and terms used

Data source – Statistics on incomes on St Helena are derived from a computerised income tax database maintained by the Income Tax Office. This captures information about all income-earners whose details are submitted through the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system and through individual and corporate tax returns. There are some limitations when using this database as a source for estimating incomes; for example, informal income earned may not be declared, and it is difficult to distinguish full-time and part-time workers, for example.

Gross income from employment – The primary analysis in this Bulletin uses average gross incomes from full-time employment, which is primarily based on data submitted through the PAYE system. Income from investments and from self-employment is excluded. Incomes are gross, i.e. before any tax is deducted, and all estimates are rounded to the nearest 10.

Median – The median is a measure of the average value of a set of numbers; it is the ‘middle number’ in a ranked list of numbers. It is the value at which exactly half the population has a smaller value and half has a higher value. It is preferred to the mean when estimating average incomes, since the mean is more easily ‘skewed’ by individuals with relatively large incomes.

Mean – The mean is a measure of the average value of a set of numbers; it is derived by adding all the numbers together, and dividing by the number of values in the dataset. While it is the most common measure of the average for many applications, it can produce misleading results for estimating average incomes because it can be biased by small numbers of relatively high incomes.

Analysis threshold – Statistics on average gross incomes use a lower bound threshold to ensure that part-time or under-reported incomes, and incomes derived entirely from social benefits rather than employment, are excluded from the analysis as far as possible. The threshold is set slightly above the Minimum Income Standard level, a measure of poverty.

Technical Cooperation Officers – Technical Cooperation Officers are persons employed by the Government of St Helena following international recruitment. They are employed for a fixed period of time on different pay scales and terms and conditions than those recruited locally on St Helena. As such, their incomes are not considered typical and so are excluded from the main statistics on incomes.

The St Helena Statistics Office has released a report containing the main results from the 2017 Household Expenditure Survey (HES). The survey was conducted between October and November 2017, and was designed to provide an updated ‘shopping basket’ for the Retail Price Index (RPI), which measures price inflation.

 134 households participated in the survey, or roughly one in every fifteen. The new price of the average weekly ‘shopping basket’ of St Helenian households is estimated to be £229.48, compared with £149.47 from the previous survey in 2009. Most of this increase over the eight-year period is due to price inflation; goods and services cost more than they did in 2009. However, when price inflation is taken into account, the new basket is 16% more that the old one, indicating a small increase in the volume of goods and services purchased. The new basket includes a number of new item categories that were not in the previous basket, such as mobile phones. Some categories from the previous basket have also been discontinued, where expenditures on these items have fallen. The new basket will be used as the basis for the RPI from the first quarter of 2018.

 The 2017 HES was a collaborative effort and sincere thanks are extended to the households who participated, and to the businesses that provided ‘hamper’ prizes for the raffle draw of participating households; these were the Rose & Crown, Thorpe’s & Sons, Solomon & Company (St Helena) Plc, the Queen Mary Store, Joshua Brothers Covered Production, Essence Beauty Salon, and G-Unique Designs.

 The full report and the data used to prepare the tables and charts in the report are available on the St Helena Statistics Office website at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics.

 For further information,  please contact the Statistics Office, by email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, by telephone: (+290) 22138, or in person at The Castle, Jamestown.

Full Report available here: Household Expenditure Survey Report 2017

Data File available here: HES 2017 Results

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SHG
23 May 2018