Nearly 27,000 Jobless

The unemployment rate in The Bahamas decreased slightly from 14.7 percent to 14 percent, according to the Department of Statistics’ latest labor force survey released yesterday.

The latest survey was conducted from October 29 to November 4, 2012. It showed that 165,255 were listed as employed and 26,950 were listed as unemployed.

The previous one was conducted during April 23 to April 29, 2012.

Unemployment on Grand Bahama increased from 17.3 percent to 18 percent in the new survey.

The survey found unemployment on New Providence decreased from 14 percent to 13.1 percent.

Additionally, discouraged workers decreased by eight percent nationally.

In New Providence, discouraged workers declined by 11 percent. However, discouraged workers on Grand Bahama rose by 15 percent.

These people, according to the standard definition of the International Labour Organization (ILO), are not considered unemployed as they did not meet the three criteria of unemployment, namely seeking work, willing to work and able to work.

The statistics also show that unemployment among young people, ages 15 to 24 continues to be considerably higher than any other age group, standing at 30.7 percent.

Unemployment among this group stood at 29.4 percent during the survey taken last April.

Director of Statistics Kelsie Dorsett said the increase could be attributed to several factors, one being that since the last survey, students across the country graduated and entered the workforce.

She added that in most fields young people are the first to be fired.

“The data indicates that the construction industry experienced a decline and we know a lot of younger people were involved in the more manual aspect of the construction company,” she said at a press conference yesterday.

“So when some of the road works were completed and other construction completed they would have been the first who have been…let go.”

In the industrial sector, construction saw the greatest decline in employment of 20 percent. “Most of the construction that was happening in the last period was…the road works. Lots of that was near completion October, November of last year,” Dorsett said.

“The major one going on now is the Airport [Gateway Project] and in terms of industrial construction, well we know Baha Mar is still going on but we know too that a lot of those employees are… foreign etc.”

The survey showed that community, social and personal services, which include civil service, police and domestic work, continue to contribute significantly to the country’s industrial sector, accounting for 30 percent of the workforce.

“Workers employed in the manufacturing sector experienced the largest increase in employment of 22 percent over the period,” said Cypreanna Winters, a statistician in the Department of Statistics.

The results of the survey which covered a six-month period indicate that there was a minimum growth in the labor force (less than one percent) since the last survey.

Around 2,500 people on Grand Bahama and New Providence were interviewed for the survey, according to Dorsett.

Dorsett said with a new government in power there is hope among many Bahamians, especially in Grand Bahama, that employment opportunities will increase.

“They (the government) came in with the Ministry in Grand Bahama…It takes time for these things to be manifested, but in the long run with their mandate they should contribute in terms of their plan…[and] be a catalyst for reviving the Grand Bahama economy.

“But it takes time and by the time we did the survey in November we did not see that. We saw rising unemployment in Grand Bahama still.”

By Travis Cartwright-Carroll
Guardian Staff Reporter