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Almost one in ten Bermudians out of work, survey shows

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Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour (File photograph)
Wayne Furbert, the minister for the Cabinet Office (File photograph)

Close to ten per cent of the Bermudian workforce was unemployed in November, the Labour Minister Jason Hayward said yesterday.

He said the jobless rate for Bermudians was 9.6 per cent according to the November 2020 Labour Force Survey Report, with Black Bermudians being hardest hit by the pandemic-induced recession.

The survey also showed that the overall unemployment rate was 7.9 per cent, which equated to 2,891 people, up from 3.8 per cent or 1,394 people a year earlier. It should be noted that 497 people of the 2,981 said they were temporarily unemployed in the survey period.

The survey, which cautioned that data gathering was hampered by social distancing restrictions, reported that unemployment in the Black community jumped from 4.4 per cent to 9.6 per cent in the period and 2,241 Black people were jobless at the time of the survey – an increase of 1,317.

Among White people, the number of unemployed fell from 321 to 320, although the unemployment rate rose from 2.7 per cent to 2.9 per cent because the labour force shrank by two per cent.

People of mixed race experienced a tripling of the unemployment rate from 2.6 per cent to 6.4 per cent as the number of unemployed rose from 148 to 330.

People aged between 16 and 24 were the hardest hit by the recession, with unemployment rising from 18.1 per cent or 405 people in 2019 to 32.1 per cent or 817 – almost one in three – a year later.

However people aged between 45 and 54 were also buffeted by job losses – whereas 1.7 per cent or 158 were unemployed in 2019, 693 or 7.6 per cent were out of work a year later.

Educational attainment also influenced job losses, reflecting the degree to which blue collar and customer facing jobs were most affected by Shelter in Place rules. Unemployment among those with no formal qualifications rose from 7.4 per cent to 21.3 per cent and those with a high school certificate increased from 5.2 per cent to 15.5 per cent. Unemployment fell for those with a degree – from 2.5 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

Of the long term unemployed, about one third reported they had been looking for work for more than one year. The highest proportion of those who had been out of work for more than a year were in the 35- to 54-year-old age group. But the vast majority of whites experiencing long term employment – 209 out of 274 – also reported they had been jobless for more than 12 months.

Mr Hayward revealed the unemployment rate at a press conference this afternoon during which he also outlined the second phase of government’s National Re-employment Strategic Plan.

He was joined by Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, who said: “Last year was a particularly difficult year, where many businesses, employers and employees were affected by the challenges in our economy and labour market due to the pandemic.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020, the unemployment rate increased, which was mainly impacted by the hospitality industry.”

Bermuda’s overall unemployment rate has been trending downwards since 2014 when it was close to 9 per cent. The rate increased slightly in the period between November 2018 and May 2019.

The unemployment rate in the last Labour Force Survey, published in November 2019, was 3.8 per cent. The current labour force stands at 36,387 people.

Mr Hayward outlined a number of initiatives that will be developed in phase two of the re-employment strategy.

He highlighted the Economic Stimulus Jobs initiative – a joint initiative with the Department of Works and Engineering – through which nine companies have expressed an interest in employing Bermudians as apprentices, trainees and trades people.

He said the goal is to provide 20 employment opportunities to unemployed individuals through the initiative.

He said that the department will continue to forge partnerships with industry and HR professionals “to broaden the range of on the on-the-job training, internships, virtual learning webinars and online career development and training programmes”.

He added: “The department plans to expand its current vocational and technical programmes to include new short and long-term certificate programmes to increase employment opportunities for on the job internships and experience for unskilled and semi-skilled Bermudians.

“The department will continue to collaborate and consult with key industry stakeholders to discuss their specific employment needs and requirements for small, medium and large businesses.”

Mr Hayward said the Chamber of Commerce had agreed to form a sub-committee to work with the ministry on strategies to re-employ Bermudians.

During the question period, Mr Hayward said that discussions about the moratorium on work permits for certain job categories were ongoing.

“We have seen where the policy has been extremely effective. We have had further conversations with the Chamber of Commerce about where they desire a number of categories to be opened up where they find a shortage of employment.

“Certainly we will take that into consideration and look to revise the policy again at the end of July.”

He would not specify which categories were being considered, saying no decisions had been made.

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Published June 29, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated June 29, 2021 at 9:15 pm)

Almost one in ten Bermudians out of work, survey shows

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