DNA leader questions unemployment rate
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 25, 2013
Democratic National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney said he is not surprised by the recently released unemployment figures, adding that he believes that the unemployment rate is worse than what is reported.
According to figures from the Department of Statistics, the national unemployment rate jumped to 16.2 percent from 14 percent. The Labour Force Survey was conducted in May with a reference period of April 29 to May 5, 2013.
"I saw the report regarding the increase of the number of persons unemployed," he told The Nassau Guardian yesterday. "I have some questions regarding that because they say it was done in April and May of this year, but I don't think it's a true reflection of the number of persons unemployed.
"I think it's higher and it will get even higher because we are aware that there are certain institutions that will be laying people off in the very near future."
McCartney offered similar comments on Guardian Radio 96.9 FM on Darold Miller Live yesterday afternoon.
While McCartney holds a pessimistic view of the unemployment situation in the country, several government officials said there is reason to hope that the unemployment rate is on track to improve.
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis told The Guardian on Wednesday that while the government is not satisfied with the rise in unemployment, it is optimistic about job growth prospects.
Halkitis said in spite of the rise in unemployment, the numbers also show that people are hopeful about employment opportunities and that jobs have been added to the economy this year.
He added that the government shares the optimism of those who have reentered the workforce.
The Department of Statistics said the unemployment rate is higher because of a 33 percent decline in discouraged workers (people who are willing and able to work but did not seek employment because they are so discouraged they have given up looking).
Just before the statistics were released on Wednesday, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he is hopeful of an economic turnaround by next year.
“I’m trying to encourage people to be optimistic, to wait a bit longer because next week I’m going to make a major announcement on another set of work in The Bahamas that will again create another new economy in a different part of The Bahamas,” Christie said outside of the House of Assembly.
Unemployment on Grand Bahama increased from 18 percent to 19.5 percent, according to the report, which was released on Wednesday.
But McCartney believes that the true figure for Grand Bahama stands about 22 percent.
"I have concerns with that report,” he said. “We will comment more on that in the very near future."
While McCartney pointed to a number of jobs that were lost over the past several months, he had no information on the number of jobs that were gained.
Halkitis noted that hundreds of employment opportunities have been created recently.
“We realize that there is much work to do in the area of job creation, and we are encouraged by some positive movement in the months since the survey was conducted, and we remain committed to doing what is necessary to put more Bahamians to work," Halkitis said.