WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15: Something’s bothering me, and it won’t go away. No matter what I do, it keeps coming back. It starts in the Prospectus that the Ministry of  Finance put out for the $475m Bond taken up in June. What deeply bothers me is on page four (4) of that Prospectus.

For the period 2007 to 2012, the Ministry reports straight-line growth for Bermuda’s residential population. The Ministry of Finance says that Bermuda’s population was 64,009 in 2007 and 64,867 in 2012.

That is wrong, dead wrong. Here is the reality.

Between 2000 and 2008, Bermuda’s resident population reached at least 67,000 (see chart above) and the national workforce peaked at 40,213.

Commencing 2009, Bermuda’s resident population started falling as an insidious eight-year out-migration of Bermudians suddenly combined with a new and faster exodus of non-Bermudians.

Bermudians leaving - Non-Bermudians coming. A series of Department of Statistics (DoS) reports tell us that between 2000 and 2008, while Bermuda’s economy was growing, Bermuda lost 1,701 Bermudians from the national Workforce (28,881 in 2000 fell to 27,180 in 2008). But Bermuda compensated for that loss of Bermudians by importing 3,897 non-Bermudians (9,136 in 2000 rose to 13,033 in 2008).  From 2000 to 2008, despite the loss of 1,701 Bermudians, Bermuda’s economic growth was enabled and supported by this influx of non-Bermudians.

By 2010, the number of Bermudians had fallen to 26,247 (down another 933).  The non-Bermudian count had also fallen to 11,850 (down 1,183). So by 2010, at least 1,183 non-Bermudian workers and their dependents had to have packed up and shipped out.  

In 2011, this loss of non-Bermudian workers continued. In 2012, it is common knowledge that non-Bermudians are still leaving.

Resident Population. Until 2008, Bermuda’s total residential population was rising (see chart). The Workforce figures support this. In 2009, it commenced falling. Population decline continued in 2010 and 2011. Population decline continues in 2012. Again, the Workforce figures support this, showing a Workforce of 37,399 in 2011.

So the Ministry of Finance’s public statement that between 2007 and 2012 Bermuda’s resident population had straight-line growth from 64,009 to 64,687 is wrong. Dead wrong.

The Ministry of Finance has used the figures from pages 54 and 55 of the 2006 DoS Report “Bermuda Population Projections 2000 — 2030”. This report is seriously flawed because it ignores Bermuda’s substantial non-Bermudian population and Bermuda’s economy. This flaw is easily apparent when one considers that in 2008, in the overall workforce, non-Bermudians made up 32 per cent — or one out of every three workers — in Bermuda’s overall national workforce; and over 25 per cent of Bermuda’s residential population.

Good national data cannot possibly come from ignoring such facts. Planners in the Ministry of Finance have not reported reality. Instead, planners have apparently ignored the real changes in Bermuda’s resident population which has seen, at the least, a loss of about 6,000 residents since 2008. Bermuda’s resident population peaked at around 67,000 (in 2008). It has since fallen back through 64,237 (in 2010) to about 62,000 (in 2012) for a residential population decline of about nine percent (9 per cent).

Consequences of a drop in residential population. In any country anywhere, under any political or economic system, a significant loss of population will result in reduced economic activity. The connection is absolute and direct and the result is inevitable.

Evidence that a loss of population has occurred? Fewer workers = less payroll tax coming in. Fewer non-Bermudian residents = less demand for rental accommodations. Fewer consumers = fewer sales by retailers. Smaller population = shrinking school population. Exodus of non-Bermudians = more households goods being shipped out than coming in. Fewer Bermuda-based IB operations in 2011 than in 2009 (15,634 in 2009 and 14,825 in 2011; down 809 or 5 per cent).

Annually, the DoS (part of the Ministry of Finance) measures Bermuda’s national workforce.  Starting in 2000, these annual DoS reports present detail and consistency. This data can help determine residential population. However, for the June Prospectus, this data was apparently ignored. A national misreading has occurred.

This publicly displayed high magnitude national error in a matter that should be easily examined and analysed, may help explain why so much else appears to have gone wrong at the national level.

The population error that is set out in that June Prospectus means that the planners in the Ministry, as well as the Minister of Finance, are apparently ignoring, or not recognizing, or are unaware of, critically important demographic and economic realities. It also means that they are planning and working with wrong information.

Wrong information in = wrong decisions out.

NB: The chart below shows the difference between the two sets of data.
(A) Real residential populations in 2000 & 2010 are Census counts. All in between are based on assumptions about households and dependents and use ratios that are seen in the Censuses.
(B) Government projections are as shown in the 2006 publication “Bermuda Population Projections 2000 — 2030” (pages 53-55) and are the figures used and quoted by the Ministry of Finance.


*Graph supplied