Analysts predict that unemployment will continue to get worse. Pictured above, hundreds of people turned out to a careers fair in February. *File photo
Analysts predict that unemployment will continue to get worse. Pictured above, hundreds of people turned out to a careers fair in February. *File photo

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31: The scale of Bermuda’s economic decline was laid out yesterday as a new report showed more than 2,000 jobs have been lost in the last two years.

Construction, tourism and international business continued to decline rapidly in 2010, according to the Bermuda Job Market Employment Briefs, released yesterday.

A total of 1,423 jobs were lost across the island last year — including 446 in construction, 287 in hotels and 144 in IB.

And analysts predict that things could still get worse.

Statistician Cordell Riley, who runs Profiles Bermuda, said both anecdotal evidence and statistical modeling pointed to further declines in 2011.

And he warned that the total number of jobs in Bermuda could dip below 37,000 by the end of the year.

“The major take-away for me from the report is the trend line of total filled jobs. 

“That has gone from a peak of more than 40,000 jobs in 2008 to just over 38,000 in 2010, a decline of five per cent over the three years. 

“If the steep decline in jobs experienced in 2009 continues into 2011, jobs could decline a further 1,000 this year to just under 37,000.

“The steepness of the trend line suggests that recovery for the island is unlikely to take place in 2012.”

The data suggests that International Business, for so long the cornerstone of Bermuda’s economy, is no longer the island’s biggest employer.

More people now work in ‘public administration’ — mostly Government jobs — which accounts for 4,296 positions.

Economist Peter Everson said this was just a fraction of the estimated 7,000 people employed by Government.

And he warned the exodus of guest workers, who account for 867 of the jobs lost in 2010, was standing in the way of recovery.

“1,300 WP holders left the Island from September 2008 to September 2010. We know that this has continued with job losses accelerating through the winter leading to the moratorium for masons; landscape gardeners and others, which means that this trend has accelerated.

“This is the basic reasoning behind the number of apartments for rent, second hand bikes and cars for sale and falling retail sales volumes.

“There are fewer people living in Bermuda than three years ago.”

Keith Jensen, president of the Bermuda Employers Council, said he was surprised that the picture had not been worse in the retail sector.

“It shows that despite this decline, employers are making a considerable effort to keep people employed.”

He cautioned that the overall decline in the number of people working in Bermuda had implications for Government’s budget.

“It is going to mean the burden of taxation falling on fewer people and that will affect Government’s budget in the future. It will be even more difficult to predict on the revenue side.”

Kim Wilson, minister for the Economy, Trade and Industry said the figures had not come as a surprise. She said Government had been working from the National Economic Report, which showed similar statistics, for some time.

She said the unemployment registration drive was a crucial part of the Government’s response.

And she said there had already been some success in ‘getting Bermudians back to work’.