Decline in umemployment benefit claims
The number of people seeking financial assistance from the government via the near two-year-old unemployment benefit program is on a steady decline and will most likely continue to fall throughout the year, a senior government official said yesterday.
Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said recent statistics indicate that for January 2010 compared to January this year, there was a 55 percent decrease in people making applications.
“That 55 percent in our view signifies that the economy is getting better and that there is much more economic activity going on throughout the country,”he said.
“We see this in the tourism sector where for example, Atlantis has rehired or taken on an additional 300-plus persons since they had that massive layoff. Also in the private construction field there are a significant amount of large projects going on. For example, the big shopping center at Lyford Cay, where they are employing over 100 persons,”Foulkes explained, while also pointing to the Lynden Pindling International Airport development which employs about 400 people and the New Providence Road Improvement Project(NPRIP)where over 300 persons have jobs, coupled with the upsweep in residential construction.
Foulkes reported that if all of these economic activities are combined, it points to the decrease in the amount of persons that are laid off, which augurs well for the country.
According to the latest unemployment statistics, in January 2010 there were 536 claims awarded as opposed to the 246 claims awarded last month.
The Labour minister noted that this”positive development in our economy”is happening without the Baha Mar development.
Some$30,388,604 in claims has been paid out since the unemployment benefit scheme was launched in April 2009.
The highest amount of claims came from New Providence, totaling some 13,428, Freeport recorded 3,865, followed by Exuma with 666 claims. Some 510 clams were dispersed in Marsh Harbour, 340 in Governors Harbour, 333 in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, 189 in Nicholls Town, Andros, 148 in Deadman’s Cay, Long Island and 101 in Fresh Creek, Andros.
The remainder of the claimants are scattered throughout the other Family Islands, amounting to some 20,007 people being assisted.
Foulkes predicted that when the Baha Mar project gets underway, it is likely there will be another significant drop in claims.
“When Baha Mar comes on stream, up to 4,000 Bahamians will be employed. Beginning this month, Baha Mar will begin to employ for the construction stage of their project and at the height of their construction some 4,000 Bahamians will be employed, and that will have a massive, positive effect on the employment situation in TheBahamas. Hopefully the persons coming to make unemployment claims will continue to decline,”he said.