Lack of work hits thousands of residents

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Ten thousand residents — or more than a quarter of the Bermuda workforce — are either unemployed or underemployed.

That is the stark finding of a survey published by the Department of Statistics yesterday, which reveals more about the impact of business closures and downsizing in a shrinking economy.

The Labour Force Survey Executive Report shows a snapshot of the employment situation, as of May 13 to 19 this year.

It finds that 3,305 people are unemployed in Bermuda and the jobless rate has surged to eight percent. Ten percent of Bermudians are unemployed and more than a third of 16- to 24-year-olds are looking for work.

Since the 2010 Census, the number of unemployed has risen by 1,323.

Even among the 35,874 who still have work, nearly one in five were described as “underemployed”, which refers to people who had a job during the survey’s reference week but were willing and available to work “more adequately”.

This means that 10,065 people — more than a quarter of the workforce — is either unemployed or underemployed. That was reflected in the sharp fall in average weekly working hours, which fell to 38 hours, compared to 42 hours in 2010.

What was also clear from the survey was the difficulty for young people in finding a job. Youth unemployment was 36 percent with 1,176 people between 16 and 24 looking for work out of 3,295 of the working population in that age group. The number of workers under 25 decreased by 567, representing a decline of 21.1 percent, the largest decrease among all age groups.

The construction industry’s post-boom demise is apparent, with 2,721 workers employed in the industry, representing a fall of 750, or 21.6 percent from 2010.

However, the survey indicated some surprising increases in sectors such as international business — up from 3,802 to 4,094 — and financial intermediation — up from 2,741 to 3,131. The business services sector also added more than 500 workers and the struggling retail and repair services sector added nearly 200 jobs, according to the survey.

The data was taken from a sample of nearly 1,500 households, some five percent of all households on the Island, producing aggregate results at the 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent, the Department of Statistics stated.

The survey said the number of Bermudians in the working population decreased by 336 or 1.2 percent. There were 244 more spouses of Bermudians in the workforce than in 2010, while Permanent Resident Certificate holders fell from 1,370 in 2010 to 1,222 in 2012.

The most severe contraction in jobs was among “other non-Bermudians”, who numbered 1,083 fewer this year than in 2010, representing a fall of 16.7 percent, as expatriates left the Island in their hundreds.

Wages have changed little, with the median gross income at $58,698, compared to $58,355 two years ago.

Women appear to be suffering disproportionately from the job losses, with the number of females in the workforce declining by 780 to 17,723, compared to a drop of 543 in the number of men, to 18,151.

The statistics also indicated differing labour market fortunes for blacks and whites. The number of blacks in the working population fell from 20,171 in 2010 to 17,229 in 2012. In contrast, the number of whites increased from 11,312 in 2010 to 13,237 in 2012.

Blacks accounted for 48 percent of the working population; whites comprised 37 percent. People of mixed and other races accounted for 14 percent, while 216 workers did not state their race.

Men earned a median income of $60,156, maintaining their earnings advantage over women, who took home $57,322.

Whites’ median income, at $71,751, was around $20,000 more than that of both blacks ($50,799) and mixed/other races ($53,191).

Bermudians earned $54,550, less than non-Bermudian spouses of Bermudians ($69,378), other non-Bermudians ($87,089) and permanent residents ($74,499).

Workers in the international business sector were the highest paid, with a median income of $114,951, followed by financial intermediation ($74,231) and electricity, gas and water ($69,068). The lowest paid sectors were restaurants and bars ($33,471), “other community, social and personal services” ($35,017) and retail and repair services ($40,751).

In response to the survey, Economy, Trade and Industry Patrice Minors said last night that Government was putting in place short-term stimulus programmes and medium- to long-term changes in policies, programmes and legislation to drive economic growth and job creation.

“One of our aims is to help the unemployed ‘reinvent’ themselves, so they are ‘job ready’ and can work within the current job market,” Ms Minors said.

“For most, it means starting a programme to upgrade or change their skills. For some, it means taking a job that they may feel is below their skill level, while they learn new skills to meet the requirements for a better paying job.”

Ms Minors said the creation of a One-Stop Career Centre was a priority. “We expect to launch this facility in February 2013, however the principles and philosophy that support the One-Stop are currently being implemented within the Department of Labour and Training so that officers are able to more effectively meet the needs of unemployed and underemployed clients.”

We asked for reaction last night from several business sources, but all requested more time to digest the statistics before giving comment.

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Published Oct 18, 2012 at 11:00 am (Updated Oct 18, 2012 at 11:16 am)

Lack of work hits thousands of residents

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