Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
FINANCE Minister Peter Turnquest yesterday conceded the latest national unemployment rate is still high, but said the government is relying on several factors to reduce joblessness.
Both he and Labour Minister Dion Foulkes expressed optimism that there will be continued job growth particularly in the private sector, which contributed largely to the unemployment figure dropping to 9.5 percent.
The unemployment figure dropped 1.2 percent from the 10.7 percent rate of November 2018. Labour officials have said private sector employees drove employment gains.
“(The) 9.5 percent unemployment (rate) is still significantly high and we know that there are a number of Bahamians that are not feeling the full effect of this turnaround that we see happening,” the deputy prime minister said outside Cabinet yesterday.
“We are very much optimistic that we will continue to see growth this year, which will translate into private sector jobs and that is the one good thing about the development so far. The growth has been in the private sector rather than the government side. That is a good sign because those tend to be more sustainable jobs where people can establish careers and create wealth for themselves.
“We have the projects that are going on here in Nassau. You have the project in Eleuthera, you have the projects that are slated in Grand Bahama, which (I) think is going to relieve a lot of the pressure here in Nassau in particular. You’ve got the Cat Cay/Ocean Cay project that is coming on. So there are any number of projects here around the Bahamas that we believe once they get up will provide some relief,” Mr Turnquest said.
For his part, Mr Foulkes said officials were pleased, but they know there needs to be a focus on the disparity between men and women finding jobs.
Officials said women were more likely than men to be unemployed despite the overall unemployment rate for women dropping to 9.9 percent in May, compared to 9.2 percent for men.
He said: “…Obviously we are on the right track. We think the economy is very stable. I’ve given all of the economic projects that are on the drawing board (the okay) We feel that we are doing a good job.
“We are concerned about the disparity between the unemployment between men and women and both myself and the minister of finance we are analysing that to find out why that is so.”