Gibson: Unemployment claims decline overrated
While there may be a 70 percent drop in unemployment benefit claims, Golden Gates MP Shane Gibson said that in itself cannot be used as an accurate method of measuring the unemployment rate or the state of the economy.
“The absolute truth, based on this 70 percent drop is that 70 percent of the unemployed are now destitute, frustrated and desperate. The 70 percent will now have to find creative and sometimes unconventional ways to sustain themselves and their families,” Gibson said in a press release issued yesterday toThe Nassau Guardian.
His comments came days after Labour and Social Development Minister Dion Foulkes reported the 70 percent drop in unemployment benefit claims, noting that this, among other factors, is evidence that the economy is rebounding and less people are being laid off.
But, Gibson explained that National Insurance Board(NIB)pays out 13 weeks of unemployment benefit to any eligible person. He stressed that as many of the layoffs occurred in the first half of 2010, the majority of the unemployment have exhausted their 13 weeks and are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits, which accounts for the claims drop.
“This is coupled with the fact that the Bahamian people are fed up with the white wash job that the government is attempting to feed them and subsequently have given up hope on finding jobs. Many unemployed persons have discontinued their job search through government agencies simply because they have been demoralized and feel humiliated at the blatant lies, as in this article, which the Free National Movement(FNM)government attempts to dish out,”Gibson alleged.
“While these persons cry out because they have lost their dignity, the FNM government remains unapologetic and continues to feed them false hope with bogus and erroneous statistics which further insult their intelligence. It is painful to see heads of households weep in desperation as they describe their present situation. Many have no choice but to lower themselves to beg friends and family for loans just to keep their heads above water, knowing they may not be able to repay,”he added.
According to statistics from the unemployment benefits program, for the most part the number of applicants has been steadily declining since the program was introduced in April 2009.
The number of applicants dropped from 211 in November 2010 to 149 in December 2010-accounting for a 70 percent decline.
Minister Foulkes said while there are still some layoffs occurring, others are being hired.
Last month Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham laid out several reasons why the government has reason to believe the worst of the economic downturn is over.
Among other factors the amount of foreign direct investment over the next few years is expected to give the struggling economy a much needed boost.
However, Gibson said the prime minister neglected to indicate that along with these investments comes foreign labor. He said this leaves little or no room for the Bahamian labor force.
Gibson said it is obvious the FNM government has no solutions and is grasping at straws in an attempt to pacify the Bahamian people.”They have simply buried their heads in the sand in the hope that the problem will resolve itself. This is being received by those most affected as an abandonment of the country’s affairs since the only thing they see are the rear ends of the members of the government. This sends a strong message which resonates throughout this nation as every family can relate to the financial crunch that they face,”said Gibson.