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Bahamas: Unemployment Could Hit 40%, Says Foulkes

THE country’s unemployment rate could be as high as 40 percent, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday but stressed officials won’t know the exact figure until the Department of Statistics does its jobs survey.

#“In terms of the employment rate in the country, there’s no scientific evidence of what the percentage is. It is pegged around 30 percent. Some people say it is higher, but we do not know that,” Mr Foulkes said outside Cabinet yesterday.

#“There (are) approximately 225,000 Bahamians that comprise the workforce and some 55,000 of that group have applied for the unemployment benefit,” Mr Foulkes said.

#“…If you do just a rough calculation, you can see the unemployment rate will be anywhere between 30 and mid 30 to 40 percent. Until the Department of Statistics does a scientific survey, we will not know exactly what the percentage is.”

#His comments came after Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson said last week that “50 percent of the population is unemployed” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown.

#Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has previously said the unemployment rate due to the pandemic was estimated at 30 percent.

#Meanwhile Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest expects the tourism industry, the country’s number one economic driver, to rebound “towards the end of this year” or the beginning of next year.

#Noting that the government’s predictions fall “in line” with the worldwide estimates as it relates to the travel industry, the minister said officials anticipate that the Bahamas will have a strong tourism comeback in the months ahead, creating more employment opportunities.

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