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Ministry says no evidence to support GB unemployment survey

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Services claimed yesterday that there is no evidence to corroborate a report that listed unemployment on Grand Bahama at 50 percent following Hurricane Dorian.

The report, “Post-Hurricane Social Trends in Grand Bahama”, which detailed the situation on the island as of November 5, found that in Freeport, 47 percent of people were unemployed. In East End, 48 percent of people were unemployed and West End had the highest number of unemployment at 60 percent. 

The report was published on reliefweb.int and The Nassau Guardian ran a story about the report on December 3.

“The door-to-door Social Services assessment has been completed in Grand Bahama, but as part of the population has been displaced, not all settlements have been fully assessed,” the document noted.

“This product is meant to be used as a programming tool for shelter partners, to better understand what the social trends of the current assessment look like on the island.”

However, the report has since been removed from reliefweb’s website.

In a joint statement, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Services pointed to The Guardian’s story.

“The information published in the newspaper was obtained from a report prepared by an international charitable organization called Shelter.org for its internal reporting and the benefit of the broader donor community,” the statement read.

“It is important to note that neither the write-up in the Shelter.org report, nor the related graphics, were prepared by any government official or representative,” the statement read.

“The report itself is not the product of any government agency or entity, and it does not represent an official national statistic.”

The Nassau Guardian never reported that the data represented “an official national statistic”.

The statement continued, “The Ministry of Finance is the supervisory agent for the Department of Statistics, which has the legal mandate to independently collect and report on employment rates in the country using globally recognized methodology.

“The government is monitoring unemployment claims with the National Insurance Board and social assistance claims at the Ministry of Social Services, recognizing the gravity of the situation in Grand Bahama and in Abaco and the blow to employment in the islands.

“However, the underlying information in the Shelter.org report is not a representative statistical sample of Grand Bahama and neither was it intended to be so.

“The data came from a survey of impacted families that the Department of Social Services had canvassed on Grand Bahama in the aftermath of the storm.”

It added, “NIB has advised the Ministry of Finance that between September and November of 2019, it has received 888 applications for unemployment benefits from Grand Bahama.

“[W]hile the 888 applications for unemployment benefits does indicate an upward move in unemployment given the devastation of Dorian, it does not signal a spike in unemployment equal to 16,000 persons – which would represent an unemployment rate of 50 percent in Grand Bahama.”

Hurricane Dorian ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.

The Category 5 storm impacted nearly 30,000 people, displacing thousands and killing at least 70. 

The Department of Statistics revealed last week that its Labour Force Survey will not include data from Abaco and Grand Bahama. Additionally, the department said it will not conduct those surveys next year, as it said it will be focusing on the census in 2020.

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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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