NASSAU, Bahamas – An interim Labour Force Survey conducted by the Department of Statistics reveals that the unemployment rate for both New Providence and Grand Bahama reached double-digit figures; 12.1 percent for New Providence and 14.6 percent for Grand Bahama.
Details of the survey conducted in February, 2009 were released at a press conference at the Clarence A Bain Building on Thompson Boulevard Friday.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham explained the need for the interim survey in his Statement to Parliament on the Government’s 2008/2009 Budget, pointing out that “the usual tracking of unemployment rates on an annual basis will not assist in better informing our interventions to address job losses.”
Kelsie Dorsett, Acting Director of Statistics advised at the press conference that the annual labour survey would still be conducted in May of this year.
“The Department deviated from its annual May survey in order to provide crucial data needed during this critical period,” she said. Due to time and cost restraints, the interim survey was restricted to New Providence and Grand Bahama, which account for 87 percent of the country’s population and 86 percent of its businesses.
The survey covered 2,500 households on the islands. A shorter version of the master questionnaire utilised in the annual May survey was administered to households in the February survey.
“The results of the survey show that in both New Providence and Grand Bahama, the total labour force as well as the unemployed labour force experienced a slight decline in numbers and this was the case for both males and females.
“In New Providence the number of employed persons declined by five percent and in Grand Bahama the decline was 9.2 percent,” Mrs Dorsett said.
The data for employed persons when examined by industrial group show that in New Providence, employment in the hotel and restaurant sector declined by 10 percent and in the construction industry, nine percent.
“When the length of time persons were working at their present job is examined, the data show that 9.2 percent of these persons were on the present job for less than eight months,” Mrs Dorsett said. “Of these persons, approximately one quarter indicated that the reason for leaving their last job was that the business for which they worked ceased operations, they were dismissed or they were laid off.”
“Of the unemployed persons in New Providence, more than a third had left their jobs within the last six months. Of these persons, 44 percent were laid off or dismissed,” she noted.
“In Grand Bahama, approximately one half of the unemployed persons left their jobs within the said period and of these persons, 48 percent were laid off or dismissed.”