Column: Decrease Of Bermudians Filling Jobs

February 24, 2016

[Opinion column written by Larry Burchall]

Hidden inside the nerd words in the 2015 National Economic Report of Bermuda, is a major point, one that may be missed in a cursory read.

Inside those 28 pages, a solitary paragraph reveals this: “Jobs occupied by Bermudians were the only status category to exhibit a decline in employment in 2015. Bermudian jobs declined by 320 posts or 1.3%. The figure fell from 23,833 in 2014 to 23,513 in 2015 Non-Bermudian positions grew by a total of 18 posts or 0.3%.”

2015 National Economic Report of Bermuda 160224

In 1980, Government commenced consistently collecting and reporting data on employment in Bermuda. In 1980, Government counted 24,191 Bermudians filling jobs in Bermuda. This means that in 2015, the 23,513 Bermudians filling jobs in Bermuda was LOWER [678 fewer] than the 24,191 Bermudians who were filling jobs in 1980.

This 23,513 is Bermuda’s all-time Guinness Book of Records low for Bermudians filling jobs in Bermuda.

The first red-hot fragment shows that in 1980 there were 24,191 Bermudians and 5,478 non-Bermudians filling 29,669 jobs in Bermuda.

Thirty-five years later – a whole generation later – there were 23,513 Bermudians and 9,664 non-Bermudians filling the 33,177 jobs in Bermuda. So after thirty-five years, total jobs were up by 3,508 [33,177 – 29,669 = 3,508] but ALL of that 3,508 jobs increase went to non-Bermudians.

The two point measurement in the chart below, with its ‘I cannot tell a lie’ numbers, illustrates the numbers that blast out the fact that between 1980 and 2015, Bermudians have lost jobs, while non-Bermudians gained jobs.

opinion image 23 Feb

A second hot fragment coming from the 2013 Employment Brief shows 25,132 Bermudians filling jobs in 2012. Then, in 2015, only 23,513. After three years, there were 1,619 fewer Bermudians filling jobs in Bermuda.

A third hot fragment? Government reports that in 2015, there were over 3,000 Bermudians who were unemployed.

The fourth hot fragment is that at 33,177 in 2015, the overall level of employment in Bermuda is lower than the 33,445 level of 1993. In that sense, Bermuda’s whole economy has seemed to regress to where it was 22 years ago.

From the perspective of any Bermudian living, working, raising a family, and planning a future in Bermuda, the idea that Bermuda’s post-1994 ‘Business Park’ economy seems not to benefit Bermudians in the same way that it benefits non-Bermudians, has a great deal of solid and supportable evidence. That is what those uncaring numbers in the chart blast out.

None of that is good news. From a Bermudian perspective, it is all bad news.

But it illustrates, clearly and perfectly, the uniqueness and complexity of Bermuda’s little understood twenty-one year-old ‘Business Park’ economy.

I’ve been writing and talking about Bermuda’s unique economy since 2009. I expected this newly reported fact to finally emerge and explode into public awareness.

Knowing what I know of Bermuda’s ‘Business Park’ economy, and, since 2009, watching the trends carved out by the data flow, I expected this kind of quirky outcome to arrive, initially, in 2015 or 2016.

Quirky, because Bermuda’s ‘Business Park’ economy is unique. Quirky, because Bermuda’s unique economy does not follow all of the rules so neatly set out in textbooks written by ivory tower academics.

Bermuda has had a unique non-textbook ‘Business Park’ economy since 1994. Since 1994, Bermuda has been out of the textbook friendlier ‘Tourist Playground’ economy.

For seventy-one years – from 1922 to 1993 – three generations of Bermudians lived and worked in a world renowned and highly successful ‘Tourist Playground’ economy. Three generations of Bermudians understood that economy, knew how and why it worked, what part they did and could play in it, and how it all fitted and knitted together.

From Cabinet level policy-maker down to M1 student newly introduced to the concept of an economy – Bermudians must learn how to function and work in Bermuda’s existing and unique Business Park economy.

Either we Bermudians figure out how this now twenty-one year-old Business Park really works and then we set our collective minds to making it work better; or, like soldiers new to combat, we tinker, unknowingly, with the trip-wires of standard but non-applicable economic and political theories, and destroy ourselves because of self-generated, self-sustained, widespread national ignorance.

IB and its direct supporting services – Business Park Bermuda – bring in $0.85 out of every dollar that floats past North Rock. Tourist Playground Bermuda struggles to bring in the remaining nickel and dime; and Tourism, with multi-millions in subsidies, is currently on national life support.

Our national choice is starkly simple. Either make Business Park Bermuda work and earn dollars; or struggle with a broken and too-small subsidized Tourist Playground Bermuda and try to survive on nickels and dimes.

Collectively, either “us lot” understand and make Business Park Bermuda work and work better; or – like untrained recruits fresh to combat – “us lot” destroy ourselves by tinkering with the trip-wires attached to our self-made $513,000 a day issue.

Bermuda’s choice is that stark. That simple. Either. Or.

- Larry Burchall

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Comments (23)

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  1. Truth is killin' me... says:

    So Larry…you’re so good at pulling the numbers out…how de we fix it then!?

  2. Hoolieh says:

    Although I agree with general focus, the article takes trends in isolation and therefore, in my opinion, lacks some clarity. What would have helped:

    1. Comparison of the level and relative composition (age and type of work) of the Bermudian work population back in 1993 to today’s Bermudian workforce. Has our population increased or decreased?
    2. Composition of Bermudian employment by area? How many Bermudians have been absorbed in the Business Park today versus back in 1993?
    3. Even in the 1990′s (during what we called full employment) there were some Bermudians unemployed? How many?
    4. Has there been a change in the ability to retire – are people today working longer or not?

    Numbers don’t lie but, if analyzed in isolation, the underlying interpretation of trends can be misleading.

    Smith’s

    • Larry Burchall says:

      Hoolieh,

      With a word budget of about 800 words, it is sometimes difficult to describe an 8,000 word problem. For a while now, I’ve been putting out bits-n-pieces that will eventually create a whole picture. Just stay with me, collect the pieces as they come, and place them in correct context.

      To answer your four points…
      1. Up until 2000, the Bermudian element in the national workforce was growing. From 2000, that Bermudian element has been shrinking. Review my pieces on ResPop and you’ll see what that is likely to indicate.
      2. That’s out there already. Bermudians in the IB sector outnumber the maximum number of Bermudians who were in the Hospitality sector. I’ve put that out there already.
      3. Bermuda has had the odd bout of unemployment. But between 2000 and 2008, we lost 1,701 Bermudians and replaced them with 1,701 non-Bermudians. All that just to keep a booming economy growing. I’ve already put that out there. So was there significant unemployment during that time? Yes, I know, ‘Jinx’ and ‘Sonny’ – were both unemployed during that time.
      4. Change? Some people are working longer.

      Hoolieh, there is some responsibility on you. Don’t leave it to others to do all the heavy lifting. You’re intelligent and have some time – so start lifting.

      But if you choose not to, just stay with me, and you’ll get all the bits-n-pieces – perhaps not on one silver platter as you’d like them, but they’ll come.

      Larry

  3. Good Grief says:

    The OBA promised 2000 jobs, but never said they were for Bermudians.

    • True says:

      lolol true…..so don’t get mad when they grant me my Bermuda status mate. I’m tired of being long term.

      • Seriously says:

        Don’t be an a$$ and make the rest of us who want status look like a$$hole. Some of us just want to be truly called a Bermudian and be accepted at part of the island.

  4. Big Owl little Tree says:

    Well maybe if the PLP didn’t purposely bully and scare the foreign companies off our island then perhaps there would be many more jobs for Bermudians! If Bermudians do not apply for jobs they won’t get them. So don’t blame the OBA!
    And Bermuda law states that if a Bermudian applies for a job that a foreigner is holding or applying for, the Bermudian must get it! This is Bermuda law and the OBA is just blamed repeatedly by uneducated people who know nothing of reality!
    How about blaming the PLP for our multi billion dollar DEBT which THEY created and left us with! It will take decades to pull out of it! Aren’t they to be held accountable for ruining the lives of every Bermudian and many future generations of children??????

    Hoot hoot!

  5. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Larry…why do you use so much nerdy words…you need to reach the people that don’t catch the meat of your opinions…break it down in grass roots language for us please…and Keep it Real.

    • Scorpio says:

      So being well-spoken and articulate is nerdy?

      Wow.

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        I see you can read…but you’re not too bright.

  6. steve says:

    you had me at “nerd words” lol. Thanks for putting together many very good columns over the years. I admit I had to read it twice to get something out of it.

  7. mixitup says:

    9 comments on this page? VErrrry interesting but not suprising.

  8. some beach says:

    Perhaps Milton Bradly will come out with a board game that is designed to fit our profile as a country and produce a replica of our economy….then we could all play it!

    They are quite addept at research and problem solving scenarios.

  9. some beach says:

    We could ask…

    Well….?

  10. some beach says:

    This is feasible…Bermuda being just one country…with issues …

  11. Faulk says:

    A few simple changes might boost growth and jobs quickly –

    1. Legalise all drugs and set up an Amsterdam/Lisbon for recreational use.
    2. Legalize brothels and sex clubs (stocked with expats of course).
    3. Cut to the chase and allow all forms of gaming to open up fast.
    4. Push Gay tourism very hard, it’s a big growth market and we are prime for it.
    5. Rent the airport to the Russians for a military base similar to what the Americans had.
    6. Have the BMA start promoting business instead of obstructing and tell the busybodies in the EU to get stuffed.

    I’m sure there are a few others, hell Larry, we could even make Bermuda a fun place to live and party in again.

  12. rhonda says:

    Just make some more Bermudians from the not taking any jobs already working pool of guest workers and bam.

    You have higher paid Bermudian in the workforce, albeit you aren’t making them as fast as the 4th and 5th generation are emigrating.

  13. My 10 cents says:

    So…. a reported 678 fewer Bermudians in the workforce since 1980 according to the report

    How many hotel/tourism jobs have been lost since then due to closures of now shuttered or demolished hotels/resorts/cottage colonies?

    This–back when the hotel workforces were dominated by Bermudians who took pride in the Service Industry, occupying great respectable jobs that are now shunned by a new generation who have left the rock.

    .. Seems kind of low if you ask me. Sonesta alone had how many staff? 500+?

  14. Fettup says:

    These freaks giving their opinion on statistics are always on repeat! No Solution for locals to have a job esp ones with family to care for and no homes now!

  15. Faulk says:

    My guess is that the good but cautious Mr. Burchall has been a bit censorious with to regard to comments that at first glance might seem at best flippant and off the wall – but which in fact at second or third glance are legitimate points of view and which at their best are genuinely solutions “outside the box.” I do wonder how many comments (other than my own few)indeed fall victim to this latent Conservatism dressed up as free thinking Liberalism.

  16. Ed Case says:

    The secret is out, a bunch of Bermudians figured out they could go to the UK, and live for free. Free health care, dole money, nobody has to work cos the government pays you to go nothing.

    Wait until more Bermudians figure this out, they will be gone by dinner time. This is why we need more Bermudians by status or otherwise. Ones who don’t aspire to living off the state collecting unemployment in the UK.

    Hey, better not tell any more Bermudians or BA will have to put on extra flights, and mayonaise sales will skyrocket at Tescos.