Labour Director John Pinder predicted that Grand Bahama’s labor force will bounce back in six months, but Abaco will need another 12 to 18 months to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
“I believe it’s safe to say that Grand Bahama will be up and running in the next six months,” he said.
“Grand Bahama isn’t that bad from the economic side of it because most of the businesses in Freeport didn’t have any major impact – flooding for the most part.
“For Abaco, most of those buildings were destroyed. Now you’re talking about having to redo [and] restock several [of them]. So, they lost all their stock and several containers with supplies in it were destroyed. So, in my view, it may take them another 12 to 18 months.”
On Sunday, Pinder predicted that the unemployment rate will rise to 12 percent after the storm.
This after it decreased from 10 to 9.5 percent last May.
“I believe that would only be for a short time because we’re looking at the fact that we have to rebuild,” he said.
“So, now persons will have to be re-engaged in a different capacity to help with rebuilding.”
Pinder said that the department is concerned about layoffs in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, especially in Treasure Cay where, he said, some 83 persons were affected by layoffs.
Earlier this month the Treasure Cay Beach, Marina and Golf Resort laid off most of its staff, and may not be able to re-engage those employees for up to two years as the hotel rebuilds in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, according to resort President Robert Meister.
Meister also indicated that the resort kept some staff to start the initial steps, and, in several cases, it reassigned staff to new positions if they had skills needed for rebuilding.
Pinder said, “I expect for them (other companies) to duplicate itself in other businesses where they would probably ask their staff members, who have the necessary skill sets, to assist rebuilding.”
He added that 95 to 97 percent of businesses on Abaco were destroyed.
In Grand Bahama, Pinder said, the Our Lucaya Strip reopened on the weekend, which he indicated is beginning to turn commerce around.
He said: “I believe the government is taking the right approach in trying to get persons out of [New Providence] and back to those areas to help rebuild and ensure those economies are restored, and by extension, lessen the load on New Providence.”
His comments came on the sidelines of a press conference at the Department of Labour on Monday.