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Unemployment statistics delayed

Chamber labor division head expresses concern over lack of data availability
Guardian Business Editor

Published: Oct 21, 2013

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With unemployment statistics yet to be made public over a month after last year’s release date, some have questioned what is causing the delay and suggesting it may be because the results will not show an improvement in unemployment levels.

On Friday, Leona Wilson, deputy director of the Department of Statistics, said that the latest unemployment statistics should be released this week.

The upcoming figures are based on a labor force survey taken in May 2013, and would come eight months after the last release of unemployment statistics, in February 2013.  Those figures were derived from a November 2012 survey.

Last year, the department released unemployment statistics in mid-September.

Wilson said she could not comment on what had contributed to the delay in statistics, telling Guardian Business that this would be made known “in the release”.

Peter Goudie, head of the Labour Division of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, yesterday suggested that he expects the figures will not show an improvement in unemployment levels.

“My only thought there is that probably the results aren’t good and they want to put a story with it before they can release it.

“The current government said they were going to get jobs and reduce unemployment, but I believe it’s probably even higher than before.  Even the IMF is saying that growth will be lower.  Put things together and unemployment will be worse.”

Goudie said he also harbors significant concerns about the accuracy and availability of data for policy making overall.

“My biggest concern is that it could be even worse than the numbers say it is.  Couple that with the fact that they’re not releasing them, and we don’t have any information to deal with.”

Former Minister of State for Finance James Smith told Guardian Business in August that he does not expect any improvement in the unemployment figures in the upcoming results.

He also called for a more in-depth analysis of unemployment that breaks down the phenomena to a greater level of detail, enabling more targeted policy responses.

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