“It is one thing not to agree with the information put forth, quite another to cast aspersions on one’s abilities,” statistician Cordell Riley said in response to comments made by Finance Minister Bob Richards.
Earlier this week Profiles in Bermuda, which is run by Mr Riley, released a report which said that the Bermuda economy could shed as many as 2,400 jobs in 2013 — or 6.8% of the workforce — if current job trends continue.
The newspaper reported that the Finance Minister said Mr Riley’s prediction has no credibility in his view, and quoted him as saying: “There’s no analysis. It’s just looking at a chart and extrapolating a chart that’s going down. Statisticians don’t run Governments, economists do.”
In response to Minister Richards comments, Mr Riley said: “I was quite surprised and disappointed by what can only be described, in the Premier’s words, as ‘school yard’ antics by the Minister of Finance. It is one thing not to agree with the information put forth, quite another to cast aspersions on one’s abilities.
“Last February, in testing out a new business venture, a newsletter was sent to 40 select local and international business men and women. The lead story was about jobs. In the story, I had indicated that ‘By the end of 2012, if current trends continue, jobs could have fallen a further 3.5% to 36,750, the lowest level since 1998.”
“You will note that jobs for 2012 were worst than predicted falling to 35,443. Likewise for the International Companies sector, the article stated that, ‘Projections are that jobs in the International Sector could fall below 4,000 by the end of 2012, giving rise to an employment growth capacity warning, a preparation warning, and a structural warning.” Jobs in this sector fell to 3,867, just as predicted.
“I should point out that the purpose of statistical modeling is not always to be proven accurate – one of the main functions is to pick up the underlying trend. This we have done successfully for the past two decades – without fail. And the reason we use forecasting techniques is for the same reason the Minister complains about – a lack of up-to-date data.
“In North America, Europe and other places, organisations such as the Conference Board carry out a similar role and the business community usually welcomes such information. We shall continue to provide such information as a public service.
“And considering the feedback we have received this far, there are those in public who indeed welcome this information. I wish to point out to the Minister that statistical modeling techniques, if done correctly, are not a respecter of person or government,” concluded Mr Riley.
We asked Minister Richards for his comments on Mr Riley’s statement, and will update as able.