The unemployment rate could drop to six percent by 2022 if residents on New Providence are willing to move to the Family Islands for employment, Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday.
His comments came a day after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis pledged that his administration will reduce unemployment to at least six percent by the end of next year.
“It should be as long as Bahamians in Nassau are prepared to relocate to some of the Family Islands because that’s where some of the projects will be held,” Pinder said.
“There’s the Eleuthera project. There’s the project in Grand Bahama. The public already knows what’s happening in Abaco. If Abaconians return back to Abaco and Grand Bahamians return back to Grand Bahama and make up the balance of that with the Nassuvians who have the skill sets that we’re looking for, I think we’ll be in the position to put a dent in the unemployment rate.
“I think we should be able to pick up sufficient jobs to reduce it to 6.5 percent.”
Last week, the government announced two major developments for Abaco and Grand Bahama.
It announced that it will sign a heads of agreement for the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort on March 2, which could lead to 2,000 to 3,000 jobs on Grand Bahama.
The government also signed a heads of agreement for a $580 million development in South Abaco which, according to Minnis, will lead to 1,200 Bahamians being hired.
Following that signing on Thursday, the prime minister told reporters, “What we see on the ground in both Abaco and Grand Bahama and what is happening in terms of rebuilding, I think our unemployment rate would come down dramatically.
“No politicians like to make such statements, but I can make a bold statement and state that by the end of 2021, the unemployment rate I’m certain will be around six percent or less.”
A drop to six percent would be a significant decrease in unemployment.
The latest unemployment figures, which were released by the Department of Statistics in August 2019, revealed the national unemployment rate had dropped to 9.5 percent, which was the lowest rate in 10 years.
However, that was before Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.
Officials at the Department of Statistics have said the upcoming labor force survey will only reflect employment on New Providence.