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Statistics show where the jobs are

Demand for work: this job fair at the Hamilton Princess in December 2013 attracted around 350 people

Questions on Bermuda jobs, including availability, skills and experience — Part One.

The annual Labour Day weekend is here, including a day when Bermudians reflect upon equality in trade and employment in Bermuda.

I’m still feeling distressed about the “Financial fears of a jobless granny”, an article in The Royal Gazette about ten days ago. The featured story was of an individual, age 60, who has not been able to find employment after a lifetime of working.

Everyone who wants to work should be able to obtain a job. Working is what we do. Work is how we identify ourselves. Good, rewarding work gives us confidence in our abilities. Most importantly, work boosts our self-worth, our self-sufficiency and supports the community.

Trust me, trust ourselves. No one really wants a handout.

I wondered why, in this recovering environment, this individual has not been able to procure another working position.

So, I decided to do a bit of research to understand whether the current (un)employment situation in Bermuda can be explained. Is the jobless granny situation due to no jobs (often called structural unemployment), or not having the appropriate (or obsolete) skills for current employment positions, or the jobs listed are not what she wanted, or that do not provide adequate compensation, or even have underlying ageism?

Maybe, there are simply fewer jobs because there are fewer fully operating local companies hiring? We do not know her personal CV merits, including her nationality, to answer most of these questions, but let’s make the assumption that the individual is Bermudian and look at some statistics.

What better way to do this, than to look at the source numbers, to see if any patterns or trends can help us with this question. We keep in mind, however, that while numbers are absolute and they do not lie, they can mistakenly, or inadvertently, be presented on a biased basis. Never believe what you see and hear as gospel — research the facts.

My first stop was to the Bermuda Government’s Department of Statistics website, then to the Bermuda Job Market Employment Briefs of June 2016 where I find that actually, this report’s data is for the year 2015 — not so helpful nine months later.

Next, I read the National Economic Report of Bermuda 2015 from the Ministry of Finance.

Then, the Labour Market Indicators from the Department of Statistics for the periods 2011-2014, an even older report — helpful, but not current enough for real substantive discussion.

Next up was a visit to the Registrar of Companies Report on Companies (including local companies on the register at the end of quarters — starting in December 2012 and ending — again not very current for a count of existing companies — at June 2014.

Finally, I perused in depth, the Bermuda Job Board Listings from the Department of Workforce Development for the last week.

At this article deadline, I could not obtain payroll tax payment data that every employer provides to the government.

This information from the Tax Commissioner would be very helpful, since data should be available through the second quarter of 2016 and would (or should) show timely information relative to increases or decline in amount of payroll tax and employees, and whether employees are full or part-time.

However, Government also recently increased payroll taxes and it appeared that the increase could skew comparisons from prior years. Anyone that can provide that information, please contact me.

Then, I came up with a list of questions centred around these numbers, some of which could be answered by the facts, while other queries remained unanswered.

Where are the jobs? Let’s start with the Bermuda Job Market Employment Briefs 2016 (for the year 2015). https://www.gov.bm/sites/default/files/6797_EB_June_2016.pdf

I think everyone knows by now, that total filled jobs decreased again for the seventh consecutive year from 2008-2015 and gross annual income declined slightly.

Reviewing the Category Table 3 — Shortages of Bermudians in Selected Occupations, 2015, we see the following:

Senior officials and managers — between 27 per cent and 48 per cent of these positions are filled by non-Bermudians.

Professionals — this category ranges the gamut from various degrees of qualified accountants, pharmacists, lab technicians, secondary teaching professionals, floral arrangers, computer techs, civil engineer, legal executive and so on. Between 31 per cent and 100 per cent (in some obscure categories) are filled by non-Bermudians.

Technicians and associated professionals — 30 per cent to 50 per cent of positions are filled by non-Bermudians.

Service workers — chefs, personal care worker, wait staff, beautician/stylist, companion, nursemaid, housekeeper. Anywhere from 37 per cent to 83 per cent filled by non-Bermudians.

Craft and related trades — butcher, roofer, landscaper, gardener, auto-body mechanic, mason, baker, tailor from 30 per cent to 83 per cent needed from overseas to fill positions.

But, what do these numbers mean? There are jobs out there that, in general, could be filled by Bermudians.

Yes, I know that is a generic answer. We will explore more statistics.

Why don’t you have a read of these interesting missives in the meanwhile. Send me your opinion.

And well, we shall see — stay tuned for next week.

Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — International Tax and Financial Services, Pondstraddler Life™, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders with multinational families and international connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com