The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more people closer to the poverty line in The Bahamas, according to the data in a just released survey conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which showed that nearly 50 percent of households surveyed reported low earnings.
The report, entitled COVID-19: The Caribbean Crisis: Results from an Online Socioeconomic Survey, showed that of the 910 residents from throughout the country that responded to the online survey, 72.5 percent said they experienced lost income.
Compared to January this year, when 16.1 percent of households reported earning incomes below minimum wage, in April 47.6 percent of households said their income was below minimum wage.
“The crisis affected all sources of income and all income levels, but not in the same magnitude. Households that reported earnings below the minimum wage in January 2020 were more severely impacted, particularly from employment loss (80.6 percent), compared to middle- and high-income households (50.2 percent and 35.1 percent, respectively),” the IDB said.
“Working remotely was more prevalent amongst high-income households (54.2 percent) compared to low and middle-income counterparts (about 35 percent). The employment shock was also unequal across genders, as 58.5 percent of women declared losing their jobs compared to 39.1 percent of men.”
The primary factors that contributed to income loss were: business closures either due to the authorities’ requirement or due to lack of demand, which represented 50.8 percent of cases; employment loss, with 50.2 percent of households reporting that at least one person losing employment; and loss of rental income, with 18.4 percent of households declaring that they had stopped receiving payments for renting real estate or vehicles.
The survey was conducted between April 16 to 30, and the IDB noted that conditions for Bahamian households may have improved or worsened since then.
The mean age of those that participated in the survey was 43 and the mean household size was four people. Forty-two percent of responders were women and 58 percent were men.