Unemployment Rate Unchanged
By Candia Dames
28 October 2005
Officials of the Department of Statistics released new numbers on Thursday that show that the unemployment rate over the last year has remained unchanged, standing at 10.2 percent.
Officials said the total number of unemployed during the "reference" or "snapshot" week in April, stood at 18,175, an increase of 185 people over 2004.
The unemployment rate in Grand Bahama was actually higher than the national rate, standing at 11 percent, up from 9.3 percent in 2004, according to the report.
The new data shows that there were 3,000 people in Grand Bahama recorded as unemployed, up from 2,465 in 2004, but officials said that was not enough to drive the national rate beyond the 10.2 percent recorded last year.
Cypreanna Winters, a statistician at the department, recognized that the results may come as a surprise to some people, but she added, "We are definition driven. Of course we know people wouldn’t agree with us."
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines employed persons as, "All persons 15 years of age and over who work for pay anytime during the reference week or who worked without pay for at least one hour in a family operated business or a person who was temporarily absent from their regular job because of vacation, illness etc."
The ILO defines unemployed persons as, "All persons 15 years of age and over who did not work or have a job from which they were temporarily absent during the reference week, but were actively looking for work in the four weeks prior to the survey week and were able and willing to work."
Discouraged workers were defined as "All persons who may or may not have worked before, are able and willing to work, but are not actively seeking work because they believe they would not find it. They are not considered to be a part of the labour force."
When asked why the hundreds of people who lost their jobs – particularly in Grand Bahama – following hurricanes Frances and Jeanne last year did not push the unemployment rate up, Ms. Winters explained that many of them would either have found jobs or are classified as discouraged workers.
Officials said they do not count discouraged workers as part of the unemployed although they too are jobless.
"There is a thin line between an unemployed person and a discouraged worker," Ms. Winters said. "We have to be guided by our [internationally-accepted] definitions."
Assistant Director of the Department of Statistics Leona Wilson reported that while the national unemployment figure is 10.2 percent, there is a noted difference when examined by sex.
The unemployment rate for women showed a slight increase, whereas that of men a slight decrease.
Unemployment among women was recorded at 11.2 percent, up from 11 percent in 2004; and the unemployment among men was recorded at 9.2 percent, down from 9.4 percent in 2004.
Ms. Wilson also reported that preliminary results show that 2,375 persons were added to the labour force in 2005, an increase of 1.3 percent over the previous year. This includes unemployed and employed persons.
Women were the main contributor to this growth (1,485 compared to men who numbered 890).
The data also indicated that 2,190 of the 2,375 persons got jobs and females outnumbered the males at 1,180, compared to 1,010.
Over the last 10 years, the unemployment rate was at its lowest point in 2001, when it stood at 6.9 percent. It jumped to 9.1 percent in 2002, climbed to 10.8 percent in 2003, and showed a slight drop to 10.2 percent in 2004.
Over the last decade, the unemployment rate was at its highest point in 1996 when it stood at 11.5 percent, up from 10.9 percent the previous year.
In 1992, the unemployment rate was 14.8 percent. The unemployment rate was highest in an independent Bahamas in 1975 when it stood at 21.2 percent.