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Confidence in economy at eight-year high

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Confidence in Bermuda's economy is at its highest point since before the financial crisis, according to a poll.

More than a third of registered voters — 36 per cent — said they had faith in the direction the economy was heading in the Global Research survey, commissioned by The Royal Gazette this month.

That represents a rise of 16 points from the 20 per cent recorded in our last poll seven months ago, and is the best score in any survey by this newspaper since November 2007.

It also means the believers now outnumber the doubters, with 28 per cent saying they do not have confidence in the economy; the remaining 36 per cent were on the fence.

However, the economy, including unemployment, is still the number one issue facing Bermuda, with 64 per cent of voters identifying it as their top concern, followed by crime with 10 per cent, education with 8 per cent and tourism with 2 per cent.

A breakdown by race shows faith in the economy is strongest among whites, with 63 per cent saying they have confidence compared with 20 per cent of blacks.

The younger generation is more sceptical, with 18 per cent of people aged 18 to 34 saying they were confident, compared with 46 per cent of those over 65. Men (39 per cent) have more confidence in the economy than women (34 per cent).

Before the downturn began in 2008, confidence in Bermuda's economy was consistently above the 50 per cent mark; this newspaper's poll recorded a score of 69 per cent in November 2007.

It plunged to 17 per cent in October 2008, and was almost always below 30 per cent for the next seven years, reaching a nadir of 3 per cent in September 2012. One short-lived spike came in January 2011, after Paula Cox replaced Ewart Brown as Premier, when confidence leaped from 15 per cent to 35 per cent. It had dropped back to 5 per cent within three months.

Last month, the Bermuda Government released data affirming that the Island is out of recession, revealing that gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services, had grown for the third quarter in succession.

In October, data released from the HSBC Business Confidence Index showed that consumer confidence was at its highest level in eight years, with ? of business leaders saying the economy had improved in the past 12 months.

The Government has also repeatedly pointed to potential job growth and booms in construction and tourism as the Island prepares to host the 2017 America's Cup, while clothes and tourist-related stores reported sales increases as a result of the World Series event in October.

The Global Research telephone poll of 401 registered voters took place between December 8 and 14, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent.

Ups and downs: the graph shows the percentage of residents who had faith in the economy over the past decade, based on Royal Gazette-commissioned polls each year (Graphic by Byron Muhammad)
Biggest concern: the economy is the main issue facing Bermuda, residents say, followed by crime and education (Graphic by Nikeisha Burrows)

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Published December 30, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 30, 2015 at 8:51 am)

Confidence in economy at eight-year high

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