UBP’s Bob Richards on Work Permits Stats

January 11, 2011

(Written by By Bob Richards, Shadow Minister of Finance)

How are Bermudians supposed to interpret the statistics revealed by the Economy Minister that purport to show an increased number of foreign workers in Bermuda?

They fly in the face of all anecdotal evidence that clearly points to Bermuda having far fewer foreign workers today than it did three years ago.

At issue is an apparent disagreement over work permit statistics. The Chamber of Commerce, using Department of Statistics data, reported 3,500 fewer work permits in 2010 than there were in 2007; while estimating that the decline amounted to $350 million fewer dollars circulating through the economy in that period.

Minister Kim Wilson took issue with the Chamber’s 3,500 figure to say that her analysis showed there were actually 636 more expatriate workers on the island last year than in 2007.

It is this point that we take issue with.

We would like to know in what sector is this larger number of foreign workers employed.

We know:

  • International companies have shed workers, either via outsourcing or simply laying off.
  • Hotels have downsized
  • The construction industry has witnessed a sharp contraction, shedding many workers.
  • We have reports of the retail sector shedding jobs because there are fewer shoppers resulting in sagging retail sales.
  • The traffic in the morning commute is lighter than it was a few years ago.
  • It’s a tenants’ market because there are fewer guest workers seeking to rent apartments. Vacancy rates are unprecedented in the modern era.
  • New international company incorporations are few and far between.
  • Larger firms have sublet their office spaces because of downsizing.

So if there has been a net increase in foreign workers, what sector of the economy is responsible for that growth: government? Perhaps she is implying that all the laid off workers are Bermudians while guest worker numbers have swelled.

The Minister’s statement flies in the face of all this real world evidence. It is very hard to believe what she is saying. It has all the hallmarks of a sleight of hand!

We have repeatedly called for an accurate picture of the employment situation. The Government can produce this, but our concern is that they do not want the people of Bermuda to know how bad the situation has become on their watch.

The Government produces month-to-month and quarterly statistical information on such things as inflation, tourism arrivals and retail sales but employment information is out of date and of questionable reliability.

It is essential that businesses, let alone government, have the best possible information to make sound decisions that can help their business avoid mistakes. The Government is not providing that at this critical moment. It is unfortunate and avoidable.

We call on the Government to stop misleading and confusing people. This is not about politics. This is about providing the people and businesses of Bermuda with an accurate picture of just what is happening on their island.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Mike says:

    One other tell tale sign that the numbers working is much reduced, is that you can (usually) find a parking space for bike or car in Hamilton.

    First time in years.

    • Sara says:

      Sometimes when I am in town after the lunch rush, it feels almost like a ghost town compared to three years ago.

    • Cleancut says:

      you will be able to get a good deal on cars in the upcoming months. Mercedes,BMW”s sportage!!!! You name it. And who will be selling these cars? Yes! You guessed it! The BANKS.

  2. LOL (original) says:

    Alas all that will be said about this is how dare the UBP try to score political points and miss-lead the public as surely they have not understood the minister or have taken it out of context. Politics in Bermuda has been reduced to a soap opera…….


  3. The truth shall set you free says:

    Another tell-tale sign: the serious decline in ‘wanted to rent’ emoo ads specifically from newly-landed expats seeking accommodation. The signs are out there…

  4. Terry says:

    All this doom and gloom.

    Another reason for finding a cycle spot is the fact that locals are out of work and many construction workers used these spaces.

    • The truth shall set you free says:

      You’re right Terry. The streets are lined with Platinum.

  5. College Graduate says:

    Pot Washers!
    The Guys That Answer The Phone At a restaurant

  6. Terry says:

    Hey Truth, “Platinum”? What period you living in man. Jingus….there’s a menstrual period which is predictable but over ten years of bleeding us dry!

    Where the hell is John Swan. Lets build and build and build. The tourists will come and they can all take a tour of old St. George and the new hotel and play Gulf…

    This brings a new meaning too “Ducking Stool”………………….

    In fact, Thomas Moore owned a tavern that is now a jungle thats overgrown with greed from tenders.

    • the truth shall set you free says:

      You said all this doom and gloom. My response about platinum seemingly flew over your head.

  7. Joe says:

    Clearly the issue is not about jobs and work permits. It is about mumbling a lot of ignorance over statistics and figures and permits being issued versus approved. All really rather pathetic.