Unemployment Rate Measured At 7% In 2015

August 13, 2015

[Updated with video + PLP's comments] The working population decreased slightly to 35,328 in 2015 from 35,478 in 2014; the unemployment rate was measured at 7% in 2015; and median gross annual employment income climbed 5% from $60,559 to $63,399.

This is according to the 2015 Labour Force Survey Preliminary Report which was released by the Department of Statistics today [Aug 13]. This report provides findings on employment and unemployment with comparisons for the years 2010 to 2015, excluding 2011 when data was not collected.

The Highlights listed in the report are:

  • The working population decreased slightly to 35,328 in 2015 from 35,478 in 2014
  • The unemployment rate was measured at 7% in 2015
  • The labour force declined 3% to 37,830 persons in 2015 from 38,963 in 2014
  • Unemployment fell to 2,502 persons
  • Labour force participation fell by two percentage points from 88% to 86%
  • Median gross annual employment income climbed 5% from $60,559 to $63,399
  • Average hours worked per week were down from 40 to 38
  • The number of unemployed Bermudians fell to 2,278 from 3,214
  • The youth unemployment rate declined from 29% to 23%

Chart extracted from the report:

Fullscreen capture 8132015 121203 PM

Speaking at a press briefing today, Minister of Finance Bob Richards said: ”I have previously expressed some concern about the danger of relying on year-old data to make informed decisions or opinions about what is going on in today’s economy. In fact, yet another example of this was broadcast in recent days.

“So for the second time within a week, I am happy to be able to provide more current data that again provides a platform for economic optimism, again by the Department of Statistics, this time regarding the Labour Force Survey.

“Most Bermudians had become accustomed to what the Royal Gazette described as an, ‘Almost uninterrupted decades-long upward trajectory that brought with it increased equality of opportunity, and social progress,’ and a sense that prosperity for Bermudians was inevitable. The past six years have forced us to revise that thinking. Therefore systemic unemployment has been one of the most alarming aspects of Bermuda’s Great Recession.

“But again, there is reason for optimism. Last week we reported an uptick in first quarter, 2015 GDP by 3.7%. I can now share with you brighter figures on the unemployment front from this year’s Labour Force Survey.

Update 2.07pm: 15-minute video of Minister Richards full press conference

“These new figures, based on data collected in May and June of this year, show the numbers of the unemployed fell, during the comparative period from 2014 to 2015, by more than 28%. The actual unemployment rate dropped from 9% in 2014 to 7% in 2015.

“The Government has been working hard to create the environment of greater business confidence and one in which inward investment would lead to projects that get Bermudians back to work.

“A breakdown of the figures shows unemployment among Bermudians has decreased, year over year, by more than 29%; unemployment is down by more than 33% among blacks workers while it is up by 1.28% among white workers.

“Youth unemployment fell from 29% to 23%. While the average number of hours worked decreased by 5%, the median income rose by 4.7% to $63,399, the highest level in many years. These are preliminary numbers with a full report expected in October.

“We expect that large building projects, like the new hotel property in St. George’s, will soon get underway. We are bringing the House of “Assembly back for a special sitting on Monday to pass a measure that will move the process forward,” continued Minister Richards.

“This is good news. It indicates that we have turned Bermuda’s economic momentum towards positive growth. But we also know that there are people – families – still stranded on the sidelines of this progress, and they tell us that we’ve got to keep the “pedal to the metal,” keep pushing forward to create new jobs, new opportunities for more and more Bermudians. This continues to be our mission.”

Update 3.03pm: Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt said, “The Labour Force Survey released today confirms that the Bermuda Economy under the OBA continues to move in the wrong direction. There are less people working in Bermuda, a sharp decline in Bermudians in the workforce.

“Furthermore the drop in unemployment is not a result of more jobs, but a result of Bermudians either giving up looking for work or leaving Bermuda entirely. This report is proof positive that the OBA’s economic policies are failing Bermuda and especially Bermudians.”

The Shadow Minister of Finance also stated that he is waiting for “an error in the figures” to be corrected before releasing a full statement.

The Labour Force Survey Preliminary Report follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (37)

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  1. Curious says:

    Can’t wait for the negative spin on this one…..

    • Voter says:

      The oba did promise 2000 jobs their first term :(
      SpongeBOb we have some questions for you!!!
      Forget it “Your’re FIRED”

      • Onion says:

        mockingjay/G.Carrington/yettb – you are nothing if not predictable.

        Presumably if the OBA does succeed in creating 2000 jobs by 2017 you will be giving apologies and voting OBA?

        • thetruth says:

          So 1,000 people vanished from the labour force?? Any explanation where these people went? Or where the jobs went?

          These numbers seem skewed.

        • sebring says:

          I think the only reason anyone would vote for the oba again is they mask their bull shx* better than the plp. at the end of the day it is still bull.

  2. watchmen says:

    I would like to see how they actually arrive at these figures because if they are using the United States metrics for calculating unemployment 7% unemployment is probably a bit optimistic. Great opportunity for investigative journalism here to see exactly how these numbers are calculated…

    No spin here just healthy skepticism..

    • Read the fine print says:

      The primary objective of the survey was to
      measure and assess the current employment and
      unemployment situation in Bermuda. The sample
      design used for the 2015 Labour Force Survey was
      a stratified two‐stage approach as follows:
      • Stage one – One hundred and fifty census
      districts (CD) were randomly selected
      from the entire 245 CDs with each
      stratified into one of three income groups
      • Stage two – random sampling of
      households were selected from each CD
      proportional to the total number of
      dwellings in each parish
      The sample frame for the survey was a
      combination of the data files linked to the 2010
      Population and Housing Census and the
      Population Frame Repository. Households were
      selected from the resulting frame according to
      their household income and census district.
      It was determined that a sample size of 1,500
      households would be adequate to give the
      desired level of accuracy and precision.The
      sample represents approximately 5% of all 28,818
      households in Bermuda, and will produce
      aggregate results at the 95% confidence level with
      a margin of error of +/‐ 2.5%.
      The survey data was weighted to reflect the
      number of households and population counts
      from the 2010 Housing and Population Census.
      The population weights were derived by dividing
      the 2010 age and sex population counts for
      persons 16 years and older by the age and sex
      counts from the LFS.
      Readers should note that there are small
      disparities in the workforce totals presented in
      the tables of this report. This is the result of the
      grossing up effect of the weights on the sample
      By the end of the survey period, 1,493 households
      had completed the questionnaire. This
      represented 99.5% of the completion target. An
      over sample of 5,917 residential addresses was
      used by survey interviewers in order to secure the
      completion target of 1,500 households.
      The values in some tables presented in this report
      may not add to the total due to rounding.

  3. watchmen says:

    Looking at these numbers it is clear that on this island it is better (financially) to be white and/or non Bermudian no news here! The numbers do not lie…with non Bermudians earning roughly 30k more per annum and white Bermudians earning 20+K above blacks.

    All is well!

    • Politricks says:

      Nowhere does it break down the differences in pay between white and black Bermudians.

      The median icons figure is just stated by race. So by including the predominantly white IB employees who make more than the average Bermudian (white and black) it will skew the numbers.

      If you look at the differences in income by status you will note that Bermudians are $60k while non-Bermudians make $93k on average which again can be attributed to the fact that IB pays way more than any other industry. PRCs make on average only $2k more than the average Bermudian salary which debunks the myth that they are living a luxury existence.

      But I’ve read your posts previously, so this is pat for the course.

  4. Alvin Williams says:

    Bermudian unemployment falling or economic refugee status in the UK rising?

    • JD says:

      Or more people reaching retirement age? Seems that possibility just sailed over a few people’s head.

      • tobp says:

        Thank you. We had over 1500 baby boomers over the last rear or two and early retirements because of the yes. And a lot more to come. People don’t realize we are about to shrink a lot more. Baby boomers are retiring over the next three years.

        And also there are a lot less jobs because of companies living and mergers

        No matter what you all will complain.

      • Zevon says:

        That wouldn’t explain the fall in unemployment rate among the young.

  5. watching says:

    So why has the total labour force number decreased over 900? Where are these folks?

    • Mr. JiF says:

      The funny part about unemployment numbers is after awhile people stop being considered unemployed and are no longer considered part of the labour force.

      • Truth Be Known says:

        I agree, wish my household was included! This is not a real depiction of our unemployment rate.

    • JD says:

      I suspect it is a combination of an aging population (more people retiring) and net migration off island.

      I’d say mostly the former as the first of the baby boom generation started retiring in 2011. That demographic timebomb that everyone told us about, well it is in the process of going off. Unless we get some new young workers to this island fast the results for healthcare and pensions are going to be nothing short of catastrophic.

      • Toughchit says:

        In one of Mr. Larry Burhall’s recent columns he noted that local deaths now outnumber local births.

        So yes you are correct as our ageing population continues to get older and retire (I.e. leave the workforce).

        That is a terrible scenario for our massively underfunded pensions and our economy as a whole.

        The answer to remedy this is quie straight forward. But getting people to understand and accept the basic facts is not. I feel a complete financial collapse will only make the non-believers begin to understand the structural issues of our economy that needs fixing. Unfortunately emotions seem to override facts in this island.

        You can’t eat or pay your bills with emotions however.

        Good luck BDA. If we don’t take the blatantly obvious actions to fix our problems there will be many more locals moving overseas for the Alvin williams of this island to complain about.

  6. shameless says:

    @Watching does have a good point. I wouldn’t say these numbers are fantastic news. Sort of addition by subtraction. Were the 900 or so that are no longer “unemployed” simply because they have dropped out of the labour force and no longer technically count? Tough to say whether there has been any actual job growth. It would be good if the survey was able to find out why people have left the labour force. The number of people employed has stayed roughly the same.

  7. S’allmost one in ten ennit?
    Or ennit not?


    • Zevon says:

      No, it’s just over 1 in 20. It used to be nearly 1 in 10.

  8. Reality Check says:

    Reality Check.

    Labour Force – 39,780 in 2010. In 2015 it is 1,950 lower and is reported as 37,830. That means that the total Labour Force shrank by 1,950 and in 2015 is smaller than it was in 2010. That is not an improvement, nor is it growth. It is decline.

    Persons employed – 37,197 in 2010. In 2015 it is 1,869 fewer and is reported as 35,328. That means that the total number of persons who are employed fell by 1,869 and in 2015 is smaller than it was in 2010. That is not an improvement, nor is it growth. It is decline.

    Hours worked – 42 hours a week in 2010. In 2015 it is reported as 38 hours a week. This is ten per cent lower than in 2010. That means that people who are working are working ten per cent fewer hours in 2015 than in 2010. That is not an improvement, nor is it growth. It is decline.

    Unemployment – 2,583 in 2010. In 2015 it is lower by 81 and is reported as 2,502. That is not an improvement, nor is it growth. That 3% shift over time and the swings in this number makes it relatively meaningless.

    Generally, since 2010, the numeric trend in the Labour Force shows a steadily declining Labour Force, and a steady decline in the number of persons who are employed. These two numbers are the ones to really really watch.

    You have a choice. Listen to and believe Ministerial ‘spin’ or look at the numbers and see the reality.

    Reality Check

    • wexed says:

      A lot of me does not want to, but I am in your camp in this one …

    • thetruth says:

      I’d like to know where the 1,000 jobs vanished. The total labour force shrunk by 1,000. I need an explanation and not a theory.

      Your post is good though.

  9. wexed says:

    Kind of think this is bitter/sweet news. I desperately want to be able to sing a positive song but I’m kinda with Reality Check on this one … lies, lies and damned statistics

  10. James says:

    David Burt would make a bad statistician.

    “There are less people working in Bermuda, a sharp decline in Bermudians in the workforce.”

    Mr. Burt is making a grave error of drawing conclusions from a statistically insignificant result. Indeed, the Labor Force Survey does show a decline in the working population from 35,478 to 35,328. However, one must remember that the Labor Force Survey is just that — a survey. The margin of error is quoted as +/- 2.5%. This is extremely important, as the size of the working population could have grown or remained flat, for all we know.

    Taking the working population figure, for example, and applying the margin of error, we have a range that could be anywhere from 34,445 to 36,211. Since the size of the labor force last year was 35,328, drawing any conclusions from a decline of 150 would be spurious. The only statistically significant results here are the drop in unemployed; the rise in median gross income; and the fall in youth unemployment. Ask Bermuda’s own Cordell Riley about margins of error.

    People must understand that the Labor Force Survey is a survey of only 5% of households in Bermuda. Certainly, it has validity in its data, but you should NOT draw conclusions from those results which are not statistically significant.

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      Have you told Bob that?

      • James says:

        The drop in unemployment numbers is statistically significant, as is the rise in median wages.

  11. Average Bermudian says:

    Despite these statistics – I and my whole family are still unemployed in Bermuda.

    What does a native bermudian family need to do to find employment in Bermuda ??????

  12. Rhonda says:

    I’ll wait and see, oba fuzzy math.

  13. Rhonda says:

    Good thing the MoF doesn’t trust anything coming from the stats department.

  14. Coffee says:

    Why is the OBA failing ?

  15. cromwell says:

    I do not see in the community a reflection of 7% unemployment rate!

    Something is fishy, I do not know where, statistical or otherwise but the rate of unemployment among my neighbors is sure more than 7%.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      I believe that if everyone who has lost their job since ,say , 2006 and were still not fully employed but were struggling doing odds and ends part time or barely surviving off of savings were ALL to be able to go somewhere and make their status known we’d find that the unemployment rate is actually much higher.

      Undoubtedly many , many people have just fallen off of the statistics records as time has marched on but they’re still out there .

  16. smth says:

    lies ,thats BS

  17. Average Bermudian says:

    During economic growth, bda brought on numerous workers from overseas.

    During this economic downturn, Bda must sent these workers back to their home country

    Bermudians must be employed first in their home country.
    Employers must be instructed.
    Why are we babysiiting people from overseas – while locals suffer.
    It makes no sense.
    This only will reduce the unemployment rate.
    The gov’t can’t be that blind to see what is actually going on.
    We must get of the road to social disaster or our core residents.
    Tired of seeing foreigners working while Bermudians are unemployed

  18. Unbelievable says:

    David Burt is again twisting the information. It’s not a perfect score card but it’s certainly much better than anything under the PLP in the last couple of years of their tim in office.