Unemployment Inthe Bahamas

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UNEMPLOYMENT in the Bahamas is down by one per cent, according to government statistics. The Department of Statistics released the results of its Labour Force and Household Income Survey yesterday, conducted in May, which revealed a slight decrease in the number of unemployed persons, a decline of less than 1 per cent in the unemployment rate which now stands at 13.7 per cent. However, the report explained the two major factors contributing to the decline in the unemployment rate were persons withdrawing from the labour force, becoming discouraged with the current economy but not meeting the unemployment criteria, and an increase of persons engaging in informal activities. The 2011 Labour Force study revealed that many unemployed Bahamians have engaged in informal activities such as selling phone cards on the streets and selling clothing, jewellery and other items from their cars and homes as a means of employment. As a result the informal sector has grown by 32 per cent adding approximately 4,410 persons to the work force. The informal sector is described as that part of an economy that is not taxed nor monitored by any form of government. According to the Labour report it is not uncommon for there to be growth in the informal sector during difficult economic times. It said: "This state of affairs is not unique to The Bahamas and happens worldwide, particularly in developing countries - a downturn in the economy gives rise to an increase in employment in the informal sector." The report noted that for the first time in New Providence the number of women in the labour force was higher than males, accounting for 51 per cent of the total. There were also more employed women than there were men. This, however, was not the case in Grand Bahama where the traditional pattern prevailed; men outnumbered women in both the labour force and the employed labour force. The increase of the employed labour force "was largely due to women whose numbers increased by 5.6 per cent compared to the 2.4 per cent experienced by men," said the report. Data also indicated that employment in the informal sector was also more accessible for women as their numbers increased by 65 per cent compared to a much lower increase, 20 per cent, experienced by men. The informal sector tended to be geared toward the retail industry, a subgroup of the Wholesale and Retail industry, according to the report, that grew more than any other industry. In contrast, industries such as construction, which are mostly male dominated, experienced a decline of 17.5 per cent. Construction was also the industry with the highest unemployment rate said the survey. These results will be available immediately on the Department of Statistics website at statistics.bahamas.gov.bs and the final report will be completed and disseminated by mid-September. The Bahamas has gone from having the third-lowest to second highest unemployment rate (around 18 per cent) among a sample group of Caribbean nations over a four-year period, a study presented at an International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference has revealed. A paper presented by authors Auguste Kouame and Maria Ivanova Reyes, entitled The Caribbean region beyond the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, showed that only St Lucia suffered a sharper - and greater - increase in unemployment levels than the Bahamas during the period 2008-2011. The study, unveiled late last month at a Caribbean conference, showed that while the Bahamas had an unemployment rate of around 8 per cent in 2008, this almost doubled in percentage point terms to between 15-16 per cent in 2009. It estimated, though, that the unemployment rate in the Bahamas peaked last year, hitting between 18-19 per cent, with a decline for this year to a projected 16-17 per cent - but still slightly higher than 2009 levels. These findings are somewhat consistent with government pronouncements that unemployment in the Bahamas has peaked, as evidenced by unemployment benefits claimant...
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