Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday the government is confident that the unemployment rate will continue to drop as several significant projects reach their completion.
The national unemployment rate decreased from 10 percent in May 2018 to 9.5 percent in May 2019, the Department of Statistics revealed last week.
The latest numbers also reflect a drop in the unemployment rate compared to the 10.7 percent recorded in November 2018.
“We are extremely pleased and very happy,” Foulkes said outside Cabinet.
“The entire government, the prime minister, the Ministry of Finance, all of my colleagues, we are extremely pleased with the results of the labor survey, which covered the period of November of last year to May of this year.”
Foulkes noted that the government is encouraged by a very vibrant economy and several big projects going on in New Providence.
He pointed to major developments such as The Pointe, GoldWynn and Sterling Global Financial’s $250 million Sterling Hurricane Hole development, which are expected to provide hundreds of jobs.
“Tourism is doing extremely well, both in stopover visitors and cruise ship visitors there are significant increases. We are very optimistic about the state of the economy,” he said.
According to the Department of Statistics, the employment gains were driven by private-sector employees, which saw a slight increase to 137,605 since November.
Both New Providence and Grand Bahama experienced decreases in the unemployment rate.
Abaco’s unemployment rate saw a decrease from 10.7 percent in May 2018 to 9.3 percent in May 2019.
However, when compared to the November survey, the Abaco rate saw an increase in joblessness from 7.7 percent over the six-month period.
Foulkes said yesterday that unemployment on Abaco is a concern for the government.
“We do not know why that is so,” he said.
“There are two or three major developments that are being proposed for Abaco.
“I do not want to preempt the Cabinet and the prime minister’s announcement for those developments, but we are satisfied that over the next 12 months that Abaco will be in good shape economically.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest echoed similar hopes.
“I think it’s a sign that we are moving in the right direction,” Turnquest said.
“We still have a lot of work to do. Nine point five percent unemployment is still significantly high and we know there are a number of Bahamians that are not feeling the full effect of this turnaround that we see happening.
“We are very much optimistic that we will continue to see growth this year, which will translate to private sector jobs.”