Video: BIU President On Unemployment Statistics

January 21, 2015

BIU President Chris Furbert held a press conference yesterday [Jan 20], where he discussed the latest employment statistics.

The recently released Labour Force Survey showed unemployment increasing to 9% with the workforce having shrunk by 511 workers in 2014. The 9% unemployment rate in 2014 compares to a 7% unemployment rate in 2013, an 8% unemployment rate in 2012, and a 6% unemployment rate in 2010.

Chart extracted from the Labour Force Survey report:

1-Fullscreen capture 01092015 41742 PM

Mr. Furbert said, “On January 9th, the Minister of Finance released some numbers for the executive summary Labour Force Executive Report, based on some employment numbers.

“On Monday, the 12th of January, and I don’t know whether this was recorded on the 9th of January or not, so excuse me, but on the 12th of January, I did hear the Minister of Finance make certain comments to the media about comments that had been made by me, as the President of BIU, about employment. I don’t know whether one of you asked him a question about I had made a statement that in 2013 we lost some 1,166 jobs; and he says that Bermuda has never lost, or that’s not true.

“My statement that I made then still holds true today. Based on the numbers that are produced by the Department of Statistics, based on these reports, it says that we lost 1,166 jobs. While I take the point they were not all Bermudian jobs, I never said that we lost 1,166 Bermudian jobs…what I said is we lost 1,166 jobs.

“It’s kind of interesting because what the Minister is doing is he has taken this 2014 report, this report I believe you all have a copy of, which is the Labour Force Survey Executive Report that is done, particularly, in 2014 where they surveyed some 1500 households out of 28,818 households. That’s about 5.2 percent, and what I find interesting is that we’re comparing apples to oranges here.

“I’ll say this to the Ministry, respectfully, you are not comparing apples to apples because this is a snapshot, only a snapshot of any given time whether it’s any particular month, two months or whatever have you. Whereas this document here, is the document the Minister should be paying attention to because these are the true employment numbers.

“When we look at overall employment change from year to year, these are the numbers we have to look at; so when we say in 2013 that Bermuda lost 1,166 jobs; 628 of those jobs were Bermudian jobs, 38 were spouses of Bermudians, 494 were other non-Bermudians, and the other 8 were permanent residents – to make up a total of 1,166 jobs. That’s a fact.

Mr. Furbert continued, “As of December 31st, 2013, there are some 5,936 people that have lost employment out of Bermuda’s workforce. This is interesting, because what the Minister wants us to believe is that non-Bermudians shouldn’t be considered in an unemployment rate; so much so that in 2013, when we were at the Tripartite Economic Forum at Fairmont Southampton Princess, made up of the government, unions, and employers, when I made the statement about the unemployment rate, the Minister said, Mr. Furbert, no, that’s not correct because non-Bermudians are not included in the unemployment rate.

“I thought then it was a bit strange so I asked the government whether or not that’s true, and he said that’s not true. When we look at employment numbers we have to look at all employment loss. And I think that this whole issue for us as an organization is that we can’t have 5,900 people go out the workforce and say, well, ok, we’ll only count the Bermudians and we’re not going to count the others.

“The reason why this is so important is because those 5,900 employees all contributed revenue to the Bermuda government by their payroll tax. And I would estimate by, when you look at this I think it’s like 3,300 or so jobs that’s lost by non-Bermudians, we can look at somewhere between 200 to 300 million dollars worth of loss of revenue for the government because it’s all compounded, it’s all accumulative.

“Every time a job goes this year, and let’s just say we had the jobs go in 2009, if those jobs would have stayed they would have been paying from ’09 to ’14; so you have to look at the accumulative effect on that loss of revenue for the Bermuda government. That’s why I say the number is between 200 to 300 million dollars worth of revenue that the government doesn’t have in the coffers right now. And I can tell you they can really use it.

“What I would say to the Minister of Finance, and I’m trying not to be rude, but I think the Minister needs to get his head out of the sand. Because he’s comparing apples to oranges, and not apples to apples, because this is the true report on employment when we look at the change of employment year over year. That’s what these figures are supposed to do.

“And anytime I have a question about the employment numbers, these are not my numbers, I pick up the phone and I call the Department and ask them for clarification. They will clarify it for me and say no, Mr. Furbert, that’s not correct; here’s the correct answer.

13-minute video of Mr. Furbert’s comments on the Labour Force Survey

“I don’t just go out there on a whim, and just start speaking out from just pulling things out of the air. That’s not the way how this organization operates, so I’m offended that the Minister of Finance would get on national television, last week on the 12th of January, and say that I’m out there trying to mislead the country. I don’t do them kind of things. I don’t do that. I report based on the information that’s given to me, and based on what I see here…it’s a fact.

“The final thing I want to say to you is that this sheet right here goes from 1978 all the way on to 2013. And these are employment numbers where Bermudians made up 83 percent of the workforce in 1978, while non-Bermudians made up 17 percent of the workforce. You wind it all the way forward to 2013, we’re now making up 69 percent of the workforce, or 71 percent, and the non-Bermudians, are making up 29 percent of the workforce. So you do the math.”

When asked if he would agree with the government’s basic strategy to get more people on the island to boost the economy, Mr. Furbert said, “Yes, I would, but careful how we address that because what we want to make sure is we find the balance.

“Finding the balance is critical because there’s no point in bringing all these people here and we got Bermudians unemployed. We need to find a balance between bringing those people here, and Bermudians gainfully employed because, as I continue to say to our members and the general public, when they say ‘well let’s just get rid of all the foreigners’ we can’t simply do that.

“We need to be very careful, make sure we find that balance between bringing people in, and making sure Bermudians can get gainful employment in their own country,” added Mr. Furbert.

When asked whether the BIU finds any comfort in the fact that Bermuda got the America’s Cup and the hotel developments that are coming, Mr. Furbert replied, “I think the concerns that are out there is that the America’s Cup is only going to be for the selected few, and the government and the individuals need to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

“We do recognize that not everybody is going to benefit from the America’s Cup, but I think that it’s up to the government to make sure that as many people as possible benefit from the America’s Cup.”

“I do think that it’s a positive thing for the country, I’m not trying to be all negative. I think that what we will have to look at there are things that we have to try to do to grow our economy. There are things that we have to get. The America’s Cup, I’m not saying it is the silver bullet that we’re looking for, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“What the government does with that step in the right direction is entirely up to them, and it’s entirely up to the rest of the country to make sure that we can move that process forward,” added Mr. Furbert.

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Comments (49)

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  1. navin johnson says:

    The ex pats who left after the Paula Cox tax increase attempt cannot be counted for unemployment statistics…that simple served to shrink the workforce…

    • Ian says:

      Thats a pretty dumb statement, particularly at this point. Still weighting the “expat exodus” on a “flash in the pan” tax increase. Amazes me how you people kick up a fuss at the notion of companies that have been making money hand over fist here getting taxed higher despite the fact your island is being strangled economically while there is wiggle room to revise tax policy and still be competitive.

      • LiarLiar says:

        Then why did the PLP reverse the payroll tax hike one year later if it had not adverse affects?

        • wow says:

          Because the PLP wasn’t in control to begin with. Govt doesn’t call all the shots. Welcome to capitalism. Money Talks… Get it now? Understand politics a bit better now?

          • LiarLiar says:

            Ok…very strange answer.

            My next question is, do you think it was smart to raise both payroll and foreign currency purchase tax in the middle of what the PLP has dubbed our ‘great recession’ which only succeeded in putting more financial strain on already struggling businesses and making Bermuda that more expensive?

          • aceboy says:

            What on earth are you blabbing about? The PLP raised payroll taxes and then the next year lowered them again. Fact. By the time that happened the companies who were thinking of leaving had activated their escape plans. Some didn’t do so immediately but their confidence levels in dealing with government were utterly destroyed. The PLP under Cog looked like it had no idea what it was doing. She even claimed Bermuda was post recession in 2010.

          • Creamy says:

            Paula increased the tax and then decreased it after it killed the economy. That’s what happened. Then, as she watched 5,000 Bermudians lose their jobs, she kept promising that the “green shoots of a turnaround” were just around the corner.
            You understand history and facts a bit better now?

            • Ian says:

              Lol! the tax hike killed the economy! LOL!! Creamy you never cease to amaze and entertain!

              • Creamy says:

                You keep on believing your “worldwide recession” myth.

                • Ian says:

                  Believe the term is global recession… And yeah.. it was such a myth…

      • Girl on Fire says:

        So many issues with this post. (1) Everyone pays payroll tax, whether they are profitable or not. The only exception is that some industries receive (temporary) tax breaks, but not all companies are making “money hand over fist”. If you’d been paying the slightest bit of attention, you’d realize that the core IB industry of reinsurance is undergoing contraction. (2) Insurance CEO’s stated that this tax created distrust and job losses. This was at a conference and reported in 2012. So yes, as a Bermudian, I’m going to “kick up a fuss” at any policy which encourages jobs to leave. (3) A 14% increase in payroll tax expense (please do the math that a 2% increase from 14 to 16% tax rate is a 14% increase!) in tax related to the single largest operating cost (labour) on the income statement. Oh, and we raised the cap from $250k to $750k, TRIPLING that expense for those individuals since IB typically pays the full amount due. You call that “wiggle room”? You think you can do that with NO consultation to a business that reports to shareholders and still call yourself competitive? What planet do you live on?

        • Kangoocar says:

          You are wasting your time trying to explain anything to do with business/economy to the likes of Ian/plp!!! If Ian/plp owned the only store in Alaska that sold winter coats, they would still FAIL!!!!!! Ian is just another paid plp blogger that shows up for work at Alaska hall whenever he needs money to buy new diapers for himself!!!!

          • Ian says:

            I take no issue with your stats and the implication that tax increases are rarely, if ever, well received. But if you think for a second there is merit in being naive enough to tie the “expat exodus”, even in general, to a temporary “14% payroll tax hike” then thats ridiculous.

            When the likes of Bank of NY Mellon axed 36 jobs in January 2k12 its because their hedge fund and alternative investment business was tanking for almost 4 years under the rapid, unprecedented deterioration of a global financial melt-down. Absolutely NO part of the decision was attributed to payroll tax. And how many other companies here found themselves having lean out quickly as their investment portfolios and pension scheme got slammed left, right and center under record equity market losses? Isn’t that what insurers and reinsurers, for example, do?? Take the money they make and strategize to build their capital bases, in part, through investment income???

            ACE was at least smart enough to start exporting everything from HR and analytics BEFORE THE 2k8 DOWNTURN simply on the basis of using GLOBALIZATION to bank of better efficiencies! And fast forwarding, well after the bottoming-out, the trend of shaving the fat continues as tough times persist. Look at the likes of HSBC [in Nov 2k13], BNTB [in July 2k13], Capital G / Clarien [in October 2k13] and LOM. All of which have been making redundancy the order of the day long after Paula Cox’s alleged mandate to scare the expats away…

            So while your numbers and stats are nice and all, fit for perhaps first year community college economics, reality is a bit more… well REAL. And I can assure you I was on this planet, in this country, to bear witness to it. As I continue to be up to this moment.

            • Girl on Fire says:

              Well, kudos on a decent (albeit patronizing) reply.

              Glad you can see that tax increases are not well received. Well done! However, the bigger issue (and the one the CEO’s themselves said!) was the disruption of trust between government and business. That, combined with other unfriendly business policies, signaled that Bermuda was no longer business friendly. That had consequences.

              No one, with an ounce of sense, says that the PLP are to blame for every single job loss. Some of that would have happened anyway, because we exist in a global environment. What I DO blame the PLP for is the lack of understanding of dealing with a global economy. The policies enacted strengthened the existing trend to outsource. If you know companies (like ACE) were starting to outsource jobs, why would you choose to enact policies which would encourage that? Could they not predict what would happen? Oh wait, yes, some of us did! The massive growth in government spending, the civil service, and overruns on capital projects made a bad situation worse.

              So, the PLP created an environment where (1) it became more expensive to do business here and (2) you may not be able to retain key staff with certainty. What would you do? You can argue that the tax was temporary, but the problem was that there were no signalling which meant the government was acting in unpredictable negative ways. All major governments signal change – when they don’t, economies crash – look at the impact of the Swiss Franc.

              You keep referencing the crash in 2008 but I think you do need a little more education in economics (FYI I actually have a degree in it). First, pensions and insurance companies use bonds significantly for the portfolio as they have long lived liabilities. The bond market overall did just fine in 2008 – it was equities that crashed. AND, equities rebounded over 23% the next year. The issue for many was liquidity, and that was a short term issue by far and large. Just look at the financial statements of ACE in 2008 – they still made over $1 billion net income. Not too shabby. And their investment portfolio went from just under $40 billion in 2008 to $46 bn in 2009. I think you need to rethink the impact that crisis had on Bermuda – the longer term impact was on asset managers and supporting services. Asset managers are increasing again too with the use of cat bonds. So, banking, reinsurance, and asset managers have all been fine and dandy for quite some time, yet Bermuda is still in a recession. Maybe you should ponder what Bermuda did differently and why we are still suffering.

              • Ian says:

                Patronizing?? Just a post ago I wasnt even on this planet according to you…

                You seem to be shifting from your stats and figures to personal opinion, which is sadly what ultimately drives even the most “learned” folks’ views on who is to blame for what her. Not saying thats your case btw.

                CEO’s like all other human beings have their opinions. Furthermore like most people, they have their successes and, more typically across the board, their failures. The fittest companies with the best CEOs have done well here and continue to. Many of them have been quite supportive of Paula Cox and her ability to understand the value of the IB relationship. You can Google actual quotes in your own time if you find that hard to beleive.

                Most of IB’s prosperity was under the PLP government – fact. So please stop with the “they created a worse environment for for IB…” silliness. And as a reminder they were the ones that actually accomodated need for permanency to be offered to those coming here to work and contribute for many years, after the UBP removed that privalege. So the “anti-foreigner” policies/rhetic looks ridiculous when light is shined on the facts in that respect too.

                As for your “bond analysis”, it hardly covers the granularity and factual play by play of what actually transpired. If you want a more robust picture start with looking at the stock price chart of a major Bermuda (re)insurer between saaay mid-2007 and mid-2012. Then overlay the charts of 2,3,4,5 more Bermuda (re)insureres on top of it. Tell me what you see and what that spells for your thesis on the performance of their “bond portfolios” on overal performance.

                And to your point re ACE, I have already spoken to how good they are at what they do so you’re only reiterating that. They are the guys with the best CEO(s) that furthermore all spoke well of Paula Cox and even employed her in a consul role funny enough. Also kind of speaks to the tone of VALID opinions on her.

                As to your comments on the likes of Cat bonds, asset management and reinsurance, those are more recent trends you are referring to, riding on external recovery, not a status quo that had persisted throughout the downturn so I dont get where you are going there. Reinsurance is a strange reference to make also considering its seeing some of the worst conditions theyve seen in quite a while – hardly fine and dandy.

                I think its pretty obvious why Bermuda is still suffering. If someone have you a million dollars to invest would you put 900k of it on a single stock and the balance on one that peaked out back in the 80′s before fizzling out? By the way that 900k investment peaked out in 2007 before getting slammed post 2008. Thats Bermuda’s problem. A insanely “undiversified” economic portfolio…

                • Girl on Fire says:

                  Yes, you were patronizing. “What planet are you on” expresses incredulity. But I digress.

                  I can’t continue on this discussion. You asked why jobs moved, CEO’s tell you why they moved them, and then you say that’s an opinion and not facts. I can’t deal with illogical arguments.

                  The contraction in reinsurance has to do with the global market and the over supply of capital. My comments of “fine and dandy” was that all the main IB industries have recovered from the global crisis. That is not to say that they don’t have their own issues and are not in contraction for different but that is not due to the aftereffects of 2008. Why didn’t Bermuda recover AT ALL? Because the environment which allowed for the recovery in previous recessions no longer existed. Part of that (not all of it) is due to the government’s policies and behaviour. I know you won’t/can’t see that, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

                  The only thing I agree with you on is the lack of a diversified economy.

                  • Jo Blo says:

                    (re)insurance industry’s productivity here accounts for he vast majority of output by IB. It IS the main IB presence. so if things arent fine and dandy on that front they wont be for Bermuda. The thing we agree to agree on is the only thing that carries any significant weight. Not our small town local politics…

                    • Girl on Fire says:

                      You are taking my remark out of context. What I said was that industries rebounded after the 2008 crisis. Bermuda never did.

                      The fact that reinsurance is going through a contraction now is unrelated to that comment. Had Bermuda bounced back and was only now starting to slump, yes I would agree with you. But it never rebounded, which indicates that we have OTHER PROBLEMS, not just those facing reinsurance or any particular industry.

                    • Ian says:

                      @ Girl on fire.

                      So are you still blaming PLP policies and governance as the source of those other problems?

          • Ian says:

            Kangoo-crazy… In the words of Mr T, I pity da fool… who is actually daft enough to “Like” your mind numbing comments… Paid bloggers… Alaska Hall… I bet your also wear a foil hat that keeps the PLP aliens from reading your thoughts! LOL

            • Kangoocar says:

              I actually pity you ” da fool ” I find it interesting you had no answers for what “girl on fire ” posted to you??? Do you still think your plp had nothing to do with the mess they left us when they were finally relieved of the misery in Dec 2012??? And further more if you still don’t get it, I will introduce you to my friends that were transferred to Geneva in 2012, and let them tell you why???

  2. Yahoo says:

    Bermudian jobs INCREASED by 157
    Spouse of Bermudian jobs INCREASED by 216
    PRC jobs INCREASED by 143

    Work permit holder jobs DECREASED by 1,027

    So, although overall jobs declined, all three “Bermudian” categories increased by a total of 516 jobs.

    Reading… it’s a wonderful thing Brutha Chris.

  3. what says:

    Yeah so what would you have done differently during that time when the GDP fell and government revenue fell? Do nothing? The debt had already been accumulating… Taxes were increased and austerity was put in place. We still have to pay interest on our debt. It’s extremely difficult for a country to ever pay off its debt.

    That chart is also missing 2011 stats. Ironically, we even lost out when are GDP was growing from 1998 – 2008 as well. Inflation and the cost of living more than doubled. Bermudians always lose no matter which way you slice it.

  4. And I'm sticking to it says:

    as much as everyone complains about the current government, you can’t keep pointing fingers at the last government either. All this hogwash about the PLP and we would be in a better position financially if it wasn’t for the leadership during their tenure is merely just an EXCUSE. How do you campaign and make promises you can’t keep?

    At the end of the day- they promised 2,000 jobs which I understand cannot be provided over 4 years. But as you continue to see a decrease in unemployment really makes you question what are they doing to not only provide jobs but mostly importantly what are they doing to prevent a further decrease.

    I don’t want the hear about the last government, statistics show a decline- what is the current government doing to prevent that???? We want it articulated so that we can gain confidence that you are working on behalf of the misfortunate.

    • Tisk says:

      The America’s Cup
      Work permit reforms
      Creating a pathway to citizenship

    • LiarLiar says:

      Their efforts have bene articulated over and over again, with each one vehemently opposed by you and yours.

      The America’s Cup is one.

      The airport redevelopment is another.

      The new work permit policies designed to attract new job creators to our shores is one more.

      The Job Maker’s Act which gives tax breaks to new businesses hiring locals is another initiative.

      Proposal of commercial immigration which will require candidates to set up businesses and employ a minimum number of locals is an example.

      Passing of casino legislation tied to new hotel developments.

      PS: While you say the financial mismanagement by the former administration is an excuse you cannot deny that it is an indisputable fact. Imagine how handy those hundreds of millions of so called capital project ‘overruns’ could be now. Those wasted funds, along with the $45mn wasted on grand Atlantic, could have been utilised to stimulate the depressed economy via infrastructure projects and the like.

      • And I'm sticking to it says:

        EXCUSE! then we can very well say that a group of people are in the predicament they are in because of the government prior to 1998. also the failing school system….lets keep pointing fingers then

        • LiarLiar says:

          Ok then.

          Not too sure how you can blame the Government prior to 1998 for the poor state of our public finances as of now. The Government that took over in 1998 inherited a balance budget with minimal debt (i.e. <$20mn) and an economy that was booming due to their predecessors setting up the necessary infrastructure to accommodate IB.

          But I am sure you have some more strange and convoluted theories based on imaginative theories and the like. I will stick purely to facts.

          Also, what do you have to say in terms of what I and another poster pointed out to you in terms of this Government's initiatives to revive the broken economy they inherited?

  5. Justin says:

    Nice to see the BIU has seen the light. Amazing that he rambled on for over 13 mins and not one mention of how the PLP’s term limit policy failed us!

    • Ian says:

      Another dumb, played out position. PLP work permit policies causing the “expat exodus”. Those policys are suspend…err gone now. The deterioration has continued. Get a clue.

      • Creamy says:

        Investment has returned, hotels are being built, people are hiring. Get a clue.

        • Ian says:

          Sure Creamy… everything is fine now…

          • Strike fund says:

            157 fewer unemployed Bermudians and less foreigners on the island.

            Isn’t that the PLP/BIU’s wet dream?

            • Ian says:

              The bulk of which are unsurprisingly made of PRCs and foreign spouses of Bermudians?? Give me a break. All it does is speak to the fact that in Bermuda a certain segment of the community tends to be protected from the bad things in this world. And if that 157 were broken down racially I suspect it would drive that point home even more.

              • Strike fund says:

                “Bermudian workers tallied 157 additional jobs from the 27,309 positions reported in 2013. Jobs held by permanent resident certificate holders increased by 143 jobs in 2014.”
                According to the survey 100% of the 157 I referred to are Bermudian.

                Sounds like you have your own definition of a Bermudian.

  6. Trebor says:

    If you read the employment statistics, then you will notice that there was a significant growth in employment of Bermudians, Spouse of Bermudians and PRC Holders, despite an overall fall in the number of people employed during 2014.

    What these statistics don’t tell us is whether there was any economic growth, but it does not necessarily follow that a fall in total employment is undesirable: it would depend on the average per capita income, and that information wasn’t published.

    Personally I’d like to see government driving the unemployment rate for Bermudians, Spouse of Bermudians and PRC Holders down (TICK), and the per capita income up (TBD).

    One has to wonder whether Chris Furbert actually read the whole report or whether he understood what he read.

    • Ian says:

      Youre as “reasonable” in your approach to assessing the employment statistics report because it is the OBAs. If if were a PLP report you would be screaming foul and claims of mismanagement/incompetence/”hostility toward expats” to the top of the mountain.

  7. Creamy says:

    Anyone who thinks that graph is a fair representation of the stats is dumb. It’s designed to make the numbers appear to be what they are not.

  8. Jus' Askin' says:

    Chris Furbert for Premier ;-)

    • Mockingjay says:

      I wouldn’t say that ,but ya gotta give it to the guy he does his homework.

      • Creamy says:

        Another stupid comment from the well-known kunta.

        • And I'm sticking to it says:

          no “creamy” from reading your comments I gather you are quite stupid.

  9. chipp says:

    Standing up and being counted! I hear u mr furbert wish other would fill the blanks. Bermudian here!

  10. D says:

    I’ve been unemployed for almost 2 years I was working in the hospitality industry I apply for jobs everyday I have been on a few interviews I am also a single parent and I am trying my best to get a job its very sad to see more and people loosing their jobs

    • PBanks says:

      Good luck, I know it’s not easy especially as a parent. Hope things turn around for you.

  11. Ride says:

    Why doesn’t the chart start at zero (0)? It’s a complete distortion of the numbers. Look how it visually suggest that the workforce halved between 2010 and 2012.

    It is appalling that the Dept. of Stats would release such a chart. We are talking about lessons learned in Statistics 101. Appalling!


  12. Silence Do Good says:

    Mr. Furbert isn’t throwing stones he is throwing boulders. Well done.

  13. Resa says:

    The jobs that are being offered by these companies are impossible for a Bermudian person to get these jobs forget what they are asking for with the years of experiences they want.In Bermuda the college only offers a selection of courses example anybody studying in the medical field if they are not doing nursing they automatically have to try and go away to school which families are struggling to send their kids to school and most times bermuda families can’t afford it and the scholarships only offer so much govt needs to take a look at that.

    • And I'm sticking to it says:

      I agree of what I deem to be clear. The gov needs to invest in the future of bermuda, these cuts in education sends a message so clear .