More regular unemployment data reporting needed
Informed decisions can only be made with reliable data. Businesses, the government and the entire citizenry all need to be regularly updated on the unemployment situation in The Bahamas.
There have been no new numbers since 2009. The reason for this is that the resources of the Department of Statistics were tied up conducting the 2010 census. So, the annual survey for last year was put off.
Kelsie Dorsett, director of the Department of Statistics, recently told The Nassau Guardian that new unemployment numbers could be available by the end of this month.
Dorsett said the department has been under pressure by both the public and private sectors to put out new data on the extent of joblessness in The Bahamas. At last report, unemployment in New Providence was above 14 percent and in Grand Bahama the joblessness rate was above 17 percent.
The problem here is not Dorsett or her department. It is the system. The government should ensure that the resources needed are made available for a regular jobless rate to be compiled and published. It could be published quarterly.
If the rate is published this frequently, both the public and private sectors would be better able to respond to changing trends in our society. We would know quicker if tax policy has an effect on joblessness; and we would know if more people need social services because more people are out of work.
This regular reporting of statistics is something The Bahamas needs to move to in all spheres in a coordinated way.
To the credit of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, it provides crime data throughout the year. However, it is not done in an organized manner beyond the formal annual release of the data at the beginning of the New Year. Usually the Minister of National Security, at random speeches during the year, provides the numbers.
Just as the unemployment data should be released each quarter, so should the crime statistics. This would influence the behavior of the public. If it is known that housebreaking reports went up in the first quarter in eastern New Providence by 40 percent, residents in that area could increase the security at their homes and be more vigilant in order to deter thieves.
These simple changes in statistical reporting practices should be a part of The Bahamas advancing and becoming a mature country. With regular reporting that is posted to the websites of the relevant government departments, public information would be available to those who need it to make decisions.