Foulkes: 55,000 people have applied for unemployment assistance

Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday that roughly 55,000 of the country’s 225,000 workforce have applied for unemployment benefits.

The 55,000 applicants represent 25 percent of the workforce. However, Foulkes stressed that only a labor force survey will be able to provide accurate unemployment figures.

“In terms of the [un]employment rate in the country, there is no scientific evidence of what the percentage is,” he said outside Cabinet.

“It’s pegged at 30 percent. Some people say it is higher, but we do not know that. There are approximately 225,000 Bahamians that comprise the workforce. Some 55,000 of that group have applied for the unemployment benefit.”

He added, “Until the Department of Statistics does a scientific survey, we will not know exactly what the percentage is.”

Foulkes noted that as the country moves into phase three of the planned reopening of the economy, most sectors have been able to resume operations.

“The hotel sector is probably the only major sector in the country now that is not open,” he said.

“We are very hopeful that beginning the latter part of this month, with some of the major hotels will begin to open, and the hotel workers can begin to return to work.”

Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the further relaxation of some restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Normal commercial activity has resumed on Family Islands with no COVID-19 cases.

On New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini, where there have been confirmed cases, as of yesterday, all non-essential storefront businesses, such as furniture stores, clothing, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and other retail stores, are allowed to resume business from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

However, Minnis noted that “restaurants, except for curbside and deliveries, bars, gyms, hair salons and barbershops, movie theaters, cultural facilities and entertainment facilities remain closed on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini”.

It is unclear when those businesses will be allowed to resume operations.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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