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Bell: Jobless projection in NIB report not realistic

While noting that “God is on our side”, Minister of Labour Keith Bell said yesterday that it is unrealistic to predict that The Bahamas’ unemployment rate will not return to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic until 2030.

Bell’s comments were in response to the latest actuarial report of The National Insurance Board which reflected an economic assumption that The Bahamas’ unemployment rate will not return to pre-pandemic levels for another eight years.

“With this new day government – headed by the honorable Philip “Brave” Davis – [while] we may not necessarily reach pre-pandemic numbers, I believe that we are going to be very close to it,” he told The Nassau Guardian.

“While we are guided scientifically by numbers, I don’t think that that ought to be the guiding or the measuring stick by which we determine the economic boost and prosperity in this country.

“From what we can see now, the country has opened back up. Persons are employed. Businesses are fully functional. I strongly believe that those statistics, even though it’s just a prediction, will be proven to be inaccurate.”

Bell said that God is still in control.

He said he is “very optimistic” about The Bahamas’ employment outlook.

“We are going to be OK,” Bell said.

“… To make a prediction out from eight years from today’s date, I don’t know if it’s really realistic.”

When asked  yesterday about the forecasted unemployment rates in the NIB report, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Myles Laroda replied, “We have other information that suggests that that’s incorrect.”

He declined to provide that information.

The Labour Force Survey, which is usually conducted in May and December of each year, has not been conducted since 2019 as a result of the COVID-pandemic.

The December 2019 survey, which was only conducted on New Providence, placed unemployment at 10.7 percent. The last national survey was conducted in May 2019 and placed the unemployment rate at 9.5.

However, as the tourism industry, and much of the economy came to a standstill as a result of the pandemic, unemployment numbers swiftly rose in 2020.

The actuarial report, which was obtained by The Nassau Guardian, estimated a 25.4 percent unemployment rate in 2020 and a 20.3 percent unemployment rate in 2021.

The unemployment rate for 2022 is estimated at 18 percent and expected to decrease to 16.1 percent in 2023, 15.6 percent in 2024 and 15.3 percent in 2025.

It is projected to continue to decrease to 14.4 percent in 2026, 13.5 percent in 2027 and 12.5 percent in 2028.

The unemployment rate is expected to be 11.6 in 2029 and return to the 10.7 percent it stood at in 2019 in 2030.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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