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‘Jobless Numbers Need To Get Real’

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Gowon Bowe

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WHILE admitting unemployment is largely a private sector problem, Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants president Gowon Bowe said yesterday newly released jobs statistics cannot be used as an indicator of the country’s economic performance.

Department of Statistics officials revealed on Monday that unemployment rose to 10.7 percent from 10 percent despite the addition of 2,305 jobs to the labour force.

Job surveys are carried out twice a year – in May and November – and Mr Bowe thinks these snapshots do not give a clear picture of the situation.

“I think the first thing is unlike many other countries we tend to do these employment statistics studies twice a year and what that does is it actually is not a very good indicator of how employment numbers are moving throughout the year,” Mr Bowe told The Tribune.

“So if we compare ourselves to North America as an example because the job statistics come out every month and they can see there is a trend of job creation and there’s a trend of job reduction. They can see the trends in terms of persons entering the work force, persons leaving the work force.

“Whereas we tend to do it in two very cyclical periods in terms of May is right before the school leavers and so when you think about the evolution cycle that is any progress that would be made up until May would not be impacted by any major event. Right after May you have the June school leavers that’s the persons not going off to university and if the job creation numbers have not outpaced the persons who graduated from school then naturally you would see a deterioration in November.

“While it is better than nothing, the infrequency or the lack of frequency of the actual statistics doesn’t give us meaningful information. Either it gets very high or they get very low.”

He continued: “Our fundamental unemployment hasn’t changed and we know that and the reason is there has been no significant growth in the economy. The GDP growth rate has been lethargic in the sense that its certainly been under 2 percent for a very long period of time and we’ve actually had extended periods where we have had zero growth or negative growth and so in the absence of exponential growth, we know that we have about 5,000 to 6,000 school leavers a year and if we are not creating jobs in a fast pace then we are not making a fundamental dent in the jobs statistics.

Figures released on Monday show unemployment in New Providence also increased from 10.1 percent to 11 per cent.

Nonetheless, Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest attempted to shift focus from the growth of unemployment to the 10,400 net jobs added to the economy as of November 2018 since the Minnis administration took office in 2017.

Regarding this, Mr Bowe said the country needed to move away from the promotion of jobs created.

“Well the issue is when you look at it in terms of how many more persons are being employed. Even if we take for example that we have a work force of I think 200,000 and we are saying we have unemployed of 25,000. If we say that we have a work force of 180,000 having a 10 percent increase in the number of jobs, the question really is how many shrinkages in terms of people leaving jobs that they were in before has also taken place?

“So in terms of job creation there is one side in terms of what new jobs have been created, but the question is how many net new jobs and is the statistic being quoted actually according to net new jobs because if we are seeing continued declines and shrinkages in certain areas of the economy certainly seen outsourcing and back office consolidation by the financial services sector, we’ve seen some shrinkages in terms of cyclical employment on the hotel front when we are entering the summer months.”

Officials said employment gains were driven by private sector employees, which increased by 3.8 percent to 135,135 persons when compared with May. Additionally, the number of self-employed persons stood at 32,475, an increase of 11.9 percent since May.

Overall, 210,560 people make up the employed labour force, while the unemployed labour force consists of 25,135.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Every knows that nearly one out of five Bahamians who want to work cannot find a job that pays them a wage sufficient enough to keep them at or above the poverty level. Turnquest and Bowe are having a useless intellectual debate over statistics that are meaningless because they fail to capture the reality of the situation. Both of them would better spend their time focusing on the development of investor and business friendly policies that stand a chance of creating new and better paying jobs. Blowing hot air accomplishes nothing.

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bogart 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"Intellectual" "debate".......????.....you are too kind....

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licks2 7 months, 3 weeks ago

That is because you don't understand what they are talking about. . .nor understand how the thing works!! They make sense to us who understand "what the deal is". . .HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. . .YOU LOSS BOUY!!

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joeblow 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Wonder how much he was paid for this spin? He seems to forget the thousands that are added to the unemployment line after graduating from high school or college every year!

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yeahyasee 7 months, 3 weeks ago

He continued: “Our fundamental unemployment hasn’t changed and we know that and the reason is there has been no significant growth in the economy. The GDP growth rate has been lethargic in the sense that its certainly been under 2 percent for a very long period of time and we’ve actually had extended periods where we have had zero growth or negative growth and so in the absence of exponential growth, we know that we have about 5,000 to 6,000 school leavers a year and if we are not creating jobs in a fast pace then we are not making a fundamental dent in the jobs statistics.

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licks2 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo. . .he just sayin to yinna political dufuses to stop "akkin" fool. . .hehehehehehehehehehe!!

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John 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The first thing Government must move to stem the flow of residents from the Family Islands to New Providence. The traditional jobs in retail, hotels can no longer employ everyone. Government should expand the BAMSI initiative and get farms going in the major islands where farmers can be assured their products will be sold and not go to waste. Smaller boutique or family owned hotels should be encouraged and with technology many government employees can now work from the family islands rather than having to relocate to new providence.

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sealice 7 months, 3 weeks ago

how is unemployment a private sector problem - they are the only sector that can legally fire people? The main problem Bahamians have is finding a decent job in which you can advance and improve yourself and your skills - not wiping atlantis arsses in a fruity coloured shirt.....

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licks2 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Government is a set-sum employer. . . no economic expansion. . .hence employment trend upward is generally situated in the elastic employment sector. . .private sector that goes up and down and cause growth. That's why IMF and them always chastise governments for overloading their employment ranks. . .Government has a finite recurrent fiscal output. . .multiple revenue streams. . . but almost no surplus for capital projects unless they burrow. . .further putting themselves at a diminishing return. Government employment is a zero sum employment game. . .like minus one plus one. . .equal zero all the time!! In contrast, private sector generate capital funds for investment into development and expansion of asserts! Private assert expansion require human resources for expanded production. . .hence new employment!!

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