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Statistics show how pandemic ravaged economy

Employment income plunged by more than $113 million during the second quarter as restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 sparked a wave of layoffs and reduced hours.

Data released by the Department of Statistics offer a glimpse into the economic carnage unleashed by the pandemic in the April-to-June period, during which LF Wade International Airport was closed to commercial flights and the island experienced a month of shelter-in-place.

Lockdown pain: shelter-in-place meant quiet city streets as much of the economy shut down (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Total employment income was $752.6 million, down from $886.1 million in the corresponding period a year earlier. representing a fall of 15.1 per cent.

The statistics make clear that pain was not evenly divided between sectors, as those in jobs that could not be done from home suffered disproportionately.

Workers in the hotels and restaurant industry were worst hit. Earnings for the sector plunged by nearly three-quarters to $13.4 million from $52.6 million a year earlier.

Construction workers’ earnings sank by more than a third to $24.9 million from $37.8 million in the second quarter of 2019.

Wholesale and retail employees also saw their income shrink, with pay in the sector falling 23.9 per cent to $42.6 million from $56.1 million a year earlier.

Transport and communications sector employment income plunged 31.7 per cent, to just under $13 million, from nearly $19 million in 2019.

Workers in international business, by far the biggest-paying sector, took home 3.6 per cent less, year-over-year, with earnings slipping to $275.1 million from $285.4 million.

Public-sector workers also took a modest hit, as employment income in the public administration and defence sector dipped 3.8 per cent to $107.5 million from $111.8 million a year earlier.

The quarterly statistics reflected the brutal impact of no cruise ships and a closed airport on tourism, as visitor numbers for the three-month period dipped to just 42, compared to more than 310,000 a year earlier.

Hotel receipts totalled just $4.2 million for the quarter, down from $109.3 million a year earlier.

Retail sales dipped 15.9 per cent in the second quarter. However, food sales were up 11.7 per cent, while liquor stores took in 23.6 per cent more.

Apparel stores saw sales plunge by two-thirds, while motor vehicles sales fell by nearly half.

The data also show the extent of the spike in public-sector spending, as the Government stepped in to provide unemployment benefits to thousands of laid-off workers. Added expenses saw the Government spend $133.5 million in the second quarter, up 74.5 per cent from the $76.7 million spent in the same period of 2019.

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Published October 16, 2020 at 8:42 am (Updated October 16, 2020 at 8:42 am)

Statistics show how pandemic ravaged economy

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