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Slight dip in joblessness

The decline in unemployment from 11.6 percent to 9.9 percent nationally was associated with hiring in the public service, the construction and hotel industries, and Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, according to the Department of Statistics.

Unemployment in New Providence fell from 12.9 percent to 10.4 percent.

Unemployment in Grand Bahama declined from 13.3 percent to 12.4 percent.

The results provided data on the labor force as it existed during the reference period of April 24-30.

According to the department, the private sector absorbed most of the new jobs since November 2016.

However, it said the community, social and personal service, which includes the civil service, police service and domestic services experienced a 29.1 percent increase in employment.

During the recent budget debate, various government ministers proclaimed that the Christie administration oversaw an explosion of hires in the weeks and months before the election.

Minister of State for Public Service Brensil Rolle said the public service grew by 6,500 people over the last five years.

The new government announced a hiring freeze in July.

The department said there was a 26.2 percent increase in jobs in hotels and restaurants, and a 20 percent increase in construction jobs, the likely result of Baha Mar being remobilized and having its phased one opening in April.

The exercise resulted in the hiring of over 2,100 Bahamians at the resort, according to Baha Mar officials.


Vulnerable workers

For the first time, the department has presented temporary employment in a category called ‘vulnerable workers’.

Statisticians at the department have long acknowledged that contract workers and temporary workers for events such as the annual Bahamas Junkanoo carnival impact unemployment trends.

According to the latest survey, there are 16,370 vulnerable workers in the labor force – 6,595 women and 9,775 men.

Of that figure, there were 4,005 vulnerable workers on New Providence and 1,290 vulnerable workers on Grand Bahama.

There was a total of 183,785 permanent workers in the labor force.

In the wrap up of the budget debate, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said between December 2016 and May 9, 2017 alone, 648 people were brought on as contract workers in the public service at a cost of $10.1 million.

Carnival, for the last three years, has been held in May, with direct and indirect jobs being generated in the week prior.

Department of Statistics Director Leona Wilson said vulnerable employment was identified in each of the labor sectors, and applies to any worker who is not permanently employed.

“We were always able to calculate that, and most of the times in our preliminary analysis we wouldn’t present it, but during previous press conferences we found that persons had questions related to the quality of employment, and this analysis presented helps us to present [answers] to those queries,” Wilson said.

“The vulnerable employment, I guess in layman’s terms, is just where the employment is of a temporary nature, not permanent employment.”

She said some workers, who work in jobs that are known to be temporary and do not possess a contract, are more vulnerable.


Labor force


According to the latest survey, which pegs unemployment at 9.9 percent at the time it was taken, 21,880 people were listed as unemployed – 11,680 women and 10,200 men.

The survey noted that 220,035 people were listed as employed, compared to the 217,750 people in the previous survey taken between October 24-30, 2016.

A breakdown of the unemployment statistics show 16,380 people were listed as unemployed on New Providence, 3,705 in Grand Bahama, and 945 on Abaco.

The labor force totaled 222,035 people at the time of the most recent survey – 106,890 women and 115,145 men.

Of that number, 140,740 were employed on New Providence, 26,160 in Grand Bahama and 11,165 in Abaco.

Youth unemployment (15-24) declined marginally from 25.1 percent in November 2016 to 24.1 percent this April.

The department noted that the rate of youth unemployment is still “considerably higher” than that of any group among most other countries.

Discouraged workers declined nationally by 8.8 percent.

This group accounts for people who have not looked for work because they believed no jobs were available.

There were 1,925 discouraged workers when the survey was taken – 820 men and 1,105 women.