IDB estimates unemployment at 18 percent

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has estimated that the unemployment rate in The Bahamas right now is 18 percent.

The estimate, the IDB said in its just released report entitled “Assessment of the effects and impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic in The Bahamas”, was based on aggregate losses in wages of employees, which is projected to reach $2.4 billion by 2023 or 4.9 of gross domestic product (GDP) per year on average.

“The impact on employment of these loses will be around 30,000 jobs. This is equivalent to 14.7 percent of the labor force of the country and is consistent with a raise in the unemployment rate up to 25.6 percent at the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

Researchers also took into account benefits paid through the National Insurance Board (NIB) for employees and the self-employed.

The report noted that according to NIB, from April 2020 to Jan 2022 there were 7,262 claims from self-employed persons in the tourism sector who lost their income due to the pandemic. Beneficiaries received a total of $15,663,634.88 in payments from April 2020 to Jan 2022.

The report said even though employment conditions improved gradually in 2021, reflected in the number of workers receiving benefits declining to 17,154 in October last year, unemployment is expected to remain above historic average and pre-pandemic levels.

“The sudden and deep downturn in the travel and tourism sector, together with curfew restrictions also took a toll on the labor market since tourism-related employment (both directly and indirectly) accounts for 70 percent of employment. Thus, unemployment went up from 10.7 percent in 2019, to 25.6 percent in December 2020 estimated by the IMF,” the IDB said.

“Figures from unemployment benefits paid to workers by the government also confirmed a significant rise in joblessness. During April and September 2020, 47,000 workers, or 20 percent of the workforce, qualified for an unemployment benefit, from 725 in August 2019. Unemployment reached 21.5 percent at the end of 2020.”

The unemployment rate in 2019 before the pandemic was 9.5 percent.

 Last month, as he defended the government’s decrease in allocation to the Department of Social Services by more than 50 percent, Prime Minister Philip Davis said the unemployment rate was under 20 percent.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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