Thursday, February 9, 2012

...youth unemployment is up by more than 30 per cent in The Bahamas

Jobless youth up by a third

Tribune Staff Reporter

THE NATIONAL unemployment rate has risen 2.2 per cent in five months and youth unemployment is up by more than 30 per cent, according to the latest labour survey released by the Department of Statistics yesterday.

The survey, which was conducted in November of last year, shows increases in both New Providence and Grand Bahama, pushing the country's unemployment rate to 15.9 per cent.

In the case of New Providence, the rate increased from 13.2 per cent to 15.1 per cent and in Grand Bahama from 15.4 per cent to 21. 2 per cent.

The last labour force survey was conducted in May of 2011.

Kelsie Dorsett, director of the Department of Statistics, attributed the 2.2 per cent increase in the unemployment rate to a decline in the informal sector and a larger number of young people becoming unemployed.

She said :" The data survey from May showed a number of person sought employment by engaging in informal sector activities. These people, like fruit sellers and phone card vendors, saw their businesses fail a few months later. When that happened they withdrew themselves from the labour force and joined the ranks of the unemployed causing an increase."

In addition to a reduction in the number of persons engaged in the informal sector, which declined by 19 per cent, there was also a decline in the number of self-employed persons. In May, self-employed persons accounted for 14 per cent of the total employment, but in the latest November survey that number decreased to 12 per cent.

Mrs Dorsett said a 34 per cent increase in the number of unemployed young people also contributed to a rise in the unemployment rate.

"In May when the earlier survey was conducted, most students about to graduate from high school and university were unlikely a part of the labour force, however, in November though some of them may have obtained jobs, others were likely awaiting responses from their job applications," she said.

"Also the young people that were working, when businesses started to fail, were the first ones to be let go or laid off. Its usually the last one in that's the first one out and in most cases its the young people who fall in that category."

Mrs Dorsett said this is a trend that will be monitored now that the survey is conducted biannually - in May and November.

New Providence experienced a decline of 13 per cent in the number of discouraged workers while the reverse was the case in Grand Bahama where the numbers increased by 42 per cent.

Mrs Dorsett said that in May Grand Bahamians were more optimistic about finding work but that their attitudes changed in November after months of searching for jobs with no success.
The survey also showed a slight increase - less than one per cent - in the size of the labour force which is now 190,445 persons.

The number of women declined by 1.4 per cent while the number of working men increased by 1.8 per cent.

In New Providence the number of persons in both the labour force and the employed labour force was almost equally distributed among the sexes. In Grand Bahama however, men outnumbered women in both the labour force and the employed labour force and were fewer in numbers among the unemployed.

Mrs Dorsett said the next labour force survey to include some of the Family Islands will be conducted in May 2012.

She said this particular survey will use a more detailed questionnaire, which will allow for the collection of data on the informal sector, training and similar information.

Additionally, a condensed questionnaire will be used with the major focus being the measurement of the labour force and the relevant indicators - participation rate, unemployment rate, and the like.

February 08, 2012