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BEC boss sees a growing ‘hustle economy’

A record-breaking drop in the number of available jobs in the last year has cast doubt on Bermuda’s ability to emerge quickly from four years of recession.

And the Bermuda Employers’ Council has suggested that the latest “dismal” statistics illustrate that the island could be developing a new pillar of the economy — the “hustle economy” — in which local entrepreneurs survive on cash flow rather than profit.

On Saturday

The Royal Gazette reported that, according to an employment survey, the number of jobs on the Island shrunk by more than five percent last year — from 37,399 filled posts in 2011 to 35,443 in 2012. The net loss of 1,956 jobs represents the biggest single-year decline since records began 35 years ago.

Noting that job losses were being felt through all sectors of the economy, BEC president Keith Jensen said that the loss of senior positions had sucked money out of the economy.

“The erosion of 1,400 of the highest paying positions for senior officials, managers, professionals, technicians and associate professionals, has taken significant spending out of the economy exacerbating our problems since 2008,” Mr Jensen said.

“At the same time, the Island faces 2012 costs with a workforce a similar size to 1998. Fewer working people are paying for health insurance as the population ages. In many sectors, businesses have not given wage increases. There has not been a year of growth in four years. Local firms are facing the size of a 1998 market with 2012 costs.”

Mr Jensen pointed out that the survey of employers did not cover small businesses of less than ten employees — and there was anecdotal information that more Bermudians are becoming entrepreneurs.

“The hustle economy helps provides some income,” Mr Jensen noted.

“Many local businesses have sustained losses trying to keep persons employed; in doing so they have borrowed against their assets anticipating an upturn in the economy. They now exist on cash flow, not on profits.”

Despite the bleak economic outlook, Mr Jensen said the BEC was confident that Bermuda can regain its competitive edge.

“Many Bermudians value their jobs as never before, many persons are willing to earn less now in order to keep their jobs and many persons are willing to earn less in order to find a new job,” he said.

“Families are helping families. These are examples of the Bermudian spirit. Our spirit too will drive us to success as we become more competitive internationally, driven by a superior work ethic compared to our competition, by driving our strengths as a welcoming place to do business and by proving that increases in productivity can outweigh increases in costs.”

Also reacting to the latest statistics, Shadow Finance Minister David Burt pointed out that Bermuda’s job market had thrived under the stewardship of the PLP — and had only begun to contract with the onset of the global recession in 2009.

And he called for politicians on both sides of the House to work together in a bid to get suffering Bermudians back to work.

“In 1998 the PLP was elected to Government,” Mr Burt said.

“Over the next ten years there were 5,000 jobs created in Bermuda. Starting in 2009 we’ve seen 5,000 jobs disappear from Bermuda. Collectively, both Government and Opposition must work together to reverse the trend of the last four years.”

Neither Finance Minister Bob Richards or Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons could be contacted for comment on the latest figures.

But in an opinion piece in Friday’s newspaper, Mr Richards said that Government’s top priority was to get Bermudians back to work.

“We’ve lost thousands of jobs in recent years across all sectors of the economy — international business, hotels, retail, restaurants — you name it,” Mr Richards said.

“We have to get those jobs back, and then some. To make it happen, we need to improve the conditions for job creation, understanding that only an employer can create a job. And that means creating an environment that encourages investors and employers to start investing and hiring.”

BEC president Keith Jensen: Sees growing 'hustle economy'

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Published April 08, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 08, 2013 at 12:42 am)

BEC boss sees a growing ‘hustle economy’

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