PM: Unemployment still too high

Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Considerable progress made to improve economy and jobs

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While making the case that his administration has made considerable progress on improving the Bahamian economy and creating employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis acknowledged during his first national address of the year last night that the government has a lot of work to do.

The report to the nation is one of three planned address to update the electorate on the government’s social, economic and critical areas of national development.

As it relates to economic growth, the Inter-American Development (IDB) Bank projected The Bahamas’ GDP growth in 2018 at 2.3 per cent, and 2.1 per cent in 2019.

Over the past decade, the average growth rate of The Bahamas has been negative one per cent.

“This is the first time in 12 years and the first time since the great recession of 2008 that The Bahamas has enjoyed projected growth of more than two per cent for two consecutive years,” Dr. Minnis said.

“This is a milestone, but we need even more robust growth to bring down unemployment across the board.

“Expanding our economy is a key to growth.

The prime minister said he understands the “economic anxieties” of many Bahamians and wished to share the government’s “aggressive growth and opportunity agenda”.

According to data released by the Department of Statistics this month, joblessness nationally increased from 10 per cent to 10.7 per cent.

The latest Labour Force Survey reflected the period October 28, 2018, through November 4, 2018.

The data shows that between May 2018 (the time of the previous survey) and November 18, more than 2,300 jobs were created, predominantly by the private sector.

However, more than 4,000 job seekers entered the labour market

The data also reflected a 6.7 per cent decrease in discouraged workers.

In contrast to New Providence, which saw its unemployment rate increase from 10.1 per cent to 11 per cent, the unemployment rate decreased in Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Minnis said despite the overall increase in unemployment, the nation has made progress, which is underscored by formerly discouraged workers re-entering the job market and the decreases in unemployment from

“I am pleased that the jobless rates in Grand Bahama and Abaco have improved,” said Dr. Minnis, who noted that this was the first time since 2008 that Grand Bahama’s unemployment rate was below 12 per cent.

Notwithstanding the drop-in unemployment on Grand Bahama, the prime minister said the rate is “way too high”.

He said more needs to be done on the island to promote employment opportunities.

“It (unemployment) must come down even more,” he said.

“We have a comprehensive and aggressive agenda to boost growth and jobs in Grand Bahama, including transforming the island into a technology hub.

Noting the decrease in unemployment from 10.7 per cent to 7.7 per cent is “considerable progress”, Dr. Minnis said.

According to the prime minister, the government will continue to boost employment in the Family Islands by improving infrastructure, inclusive of new airports to be developed on North Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island.

As it relates to New Providence, which has the largest population, Dr. Minnis acknowledged his government has a lot of work to do.

Minnis outlined a number of key developments on New Providence and several of the Family Islands, which are expected to bring more jobs on stream in the near to medium-term future.

He pointed out that since mid-2017, his administration has approved $3.7 billion in foreign projects.

Additionally, Dr. Minnis pointed out that tourism remains the heart of the Bahamian economy, but further diversification is needed.

He highlighted the increase stopover air arrivals last year, which were up 16.5 per cent.