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Employment increase the first in nine years

Finance minister Bob Richards before his Budget speech (Photograph David Skinner)

The rise may appear to be modest: 56 more jobs existed as of August 2016 over those reported in the previous year.

However, the 0.2 per cent increase raised the tally of jobs from 33,319 in 2015 to 33,375 last year — the first increase seen in Bermuda since 2008 when local jobs boomed at 40,213.

The rise brought to a close seven consecutive years of job losses. Overall, the island’s jobs contracted 17 per cent during that time — a loss of 6,838 jobs.

Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, characterised employment as a “lagging indicator” of the true state of Bermuda’s reviving economy.

In his Budget statement yesterday, the minister hailed the uptick as “an important positive change in direction from the previous many years”.

Mr Richards also acknowledged the delay in tracking employment figures, calling it “unfortunate” that the government’s estimates were not more timely.

For example, large projects have been under way in Dockyard, Morgan’s Point and Pink Beach, but the data shows just ten new jobs in construction.

Mr Richards told the House of Assembly that it was clear that the dampening effect of consolidation in international business, and the demographic shift of retiring baby boomers outnumbering young people coming into the workforce, needed to be countered by growth in other sectors, such as tourism.

The minister’s remarks came as the National Economic Report of Bermuda 2016 was tabled in the House, showing 2008 as the peak year after job growth began to moderate in 2007.

The report noted that retail and repair services, along with “other community, social and personal services”, had been the only sectors to gain more than 100 jobs, rising by 154 and 102 positions respectively.

Restaurants, cafés and bars came in at second place, adding 73 new jobs.

Retail and trade showed the greatest job growth of any industrial sector, a 5.8 per cent climb from 2,646 in 2015 to 2,800 in 2016, while “other community, social and personal services” rose by 5.2 per cent.

The increases across various sectors were largely offset by the contraction in the public administration sector, the report said.

“With the government continuing their programme of reducing the size of the public service, this sector’s employment numbers fell from 3,936 in 2015 to 3,767 in 2016. This figure equated to a reduction in employment of 4.3 per cent.”

There were also significant losses in the hotel sector, which lost 63 positions.

Overall, three main occupational groups experienced job growth last year: service workers, shop and market sales workers had the largest increase of 159 positions, followed by craft and related trade workers, at 63 positions.

The final growth sector was technicians and associate professionals, who increased their numbers by 19 jobs.

“Six major occupational groups experienced job losses jobs in 2016,” the report added.

“The largest reductions occurred with clerks who shed 98 positions, professionals’ jobs fell by 24 posts and senior officials and managers posts declined by 22 jobs.

Jobs occupied by non-Bermudians were the only status category to exhibit an increase in employment in 2016.

“Non-Bermudian jobs grew by 158 posts or 2.3 per cent.

“The figure rose from 6,990 in 2015 to 7,148 in 2016. Bermudian positions declined by a total of 75 posts or 0.3 per cent in 2016.

“Non-Bermudian spouses of Bermudians accounted for 16 job losses while Permanent Resident’s Certificate holders experienced a decrease in posts of 11 positions.”