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‘More jobs on the way’

Amid concerns that a decline in unemployment nationally has been “skewed” by the temporary construction jobs created in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Minister of Labour Shane Gibson said yesterday he was not surprised by the decline and asserted that by May 2017 unemployment is expected to decrease even more.

According to the Department of Statistics, the national unemployment rate declined just over one percent in the last six months, from 12.7 percent in May to 11.6 percent in October.

The research conducted provides information on the labor force during the reference period October 24-30, 2016.

The fall in unemployment was attributed to the employment of 4,025 people; of that number, 1,385 were construction jobs “as a direct result of Hurricane Matthew”.

“We expected the numbers to come down,” Gibson said.

“We expect the numbers to come down even more.”

Gibson referred to the jobs that will be created next year due to Baha Mar’s phased opening, as well as construction and renovation associated with a new post office, road traffic departments and administrative complexes in Bimini and Grand Bahama.

“We have a lot of things happening right now where we expect the numbers to go down even further,” he said.

“So it’s no surprise to me, really.

“It’s going to go down even further when they do the next statistics.

“I think in May sometime next year, you will see the numbers going down even more.”

Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Sidney Collie, however, on Tuesday contested that the decline was due more to temporary employment and recommended that the Department of Statistics moving forward make the distinction between permanent and temporary jobs when conducting its labor force survey.

“That is nothing to write home about because those numbers are skewed,” Collie told The Nassau Guardian.

“The temporary employment – reconstruction jobs, clean-up jobs, small repair jobs and some new construction [jobs] came directly out of the disaster called Hurricane Matthew and those jobs have a short lifespan. So, we have to wait…I would say six months to a year to see whether this 11.6 percent unemployment nationally holds.”

Collie said while he does not wish to cast aspersions on the work of the Department of Statistics, calling the staff hard-working professionals, the “politicians are using statistics to try to tell a story and it is a false narrative”.

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