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GB Minister: Unemployment rate doesn’t reflect current reality

  • Michael Darville.

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Oct 25, 2013

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If the Department of Statistics conducted a labor force study today on Grand Bahama the island’s unemployment rate would be lower than the 19.5 percent that was recorded in May, Minister of Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville said yesterday.

Darville said while he is not questioning the accuracy of the figure, the economic climate on the island has changed since the time of the survey and more jobs have been added.

He said the end of the Ingraham administration’s 52-week program likely contributed to the higher unemployment figure.

“In May, there was a transitional period where we went into a point where the unemployment, I felt, was increasing,” Darville said. “I am convinced that if we were to do the statistics at this time the unemployment rate would not be the 19.5 percent that we see in this report.

“Since May of this year we have seen increased employment at the [Freeport] Container Port and the establishment of a few other businesses on the island which clearly indicates that we are in recovery mode.”

After a slight decline last year, the national unemployment rate is now the highest it has been in at least 10 years, according to figures from the Department of Statistics. Those figures show that the jobless rate jumped to 16.2 percent from 14 percent.

The data is contained in the 2013 Labour Force Survey, which was conducted in May with a reference period of April 29 to May 5, 2013. The information was released Wednesday.

During the period of 2002 to 2012, the country’s highest unemployment rate was seen in 2011 at 15.9 percent, according to records from the Department of Statistics.

The latest numbers show that the unemployment rate on New Providence rose to 15.9 percent from 13.1 percent, and the rate on Grand Bahama jumped to 19.5 percent from 18 percent.

Unemployment among youths (people 15 to 24) rose to 30.8 from 30.7 percent with the youth jobless rate for residents of New Providence and Grand Bahama “considerably higher than any other age group,” the statement said.

Grand Bahama’s labor force consists of 25,115 people with 4,900 unemployed. There were 2,635 unemployed women and 2,265 unemployed men in Grand Bahama’s labor force at the time of the survey.

Yesterday Darville said that in spite of the statistics, there are many projects in the pipeline which will create jobs for Grand Bahama.

Darville said ongoing renovations at The Reef hotel has created 250 to 300 construction jobs and will create 1,000 permanent jobs once the property is reopened.

He added that he anticipates growth in Grand Bahama’s industrial and tourism sector.

“We see a bright light down the tunnel in terms of our unemployment situation,” Darville said.

“What is of great concern to us is the unemployment statistics and that roughly one out of every three young person is unemployed.

“Knowing that and seeing where we are, we are working diligently with our private sector partners and we have a strong focus on training for the expansion that we anticipate in the industrial sector and also in the service area.”

The Nassau Guardian spoke with a single mother of two who lives in Freeport and said she has not had steady work for a year.

The mother, who did not want to be named, said she is hopeful about job prospects in spite of her situation.

“I think we are going to have jobs soon. There are a lot of places opening, there are some small business opening,” she said.

“I’ve been putting my papers out there but nobody is calling back, but I’m not discouraged.”

The 22-year-old said she makes a living taking odd jobs as a babysitter and hair stylist while she looks for full time work.

The Department of Statistics said the unemployment rate is higher because of a 33 percent decline in discouraged workers.

This category consists of people who are willing and able to work but did not seek employment because they are so discouraged they have given up looking.

During the period of 2002 to 2012, the country’s highest unemployment rate was seen in 2011 at 15.9 percent, according to records from the Department of Statistics.

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