Submitted by Walter Blackman
Prodigal Son July 5, 2016 at 10:57 PM
But wait…….is Fumble off his medication?
The man told a bold faced lie on DLPTV tonight ……….the man said in Guyana that unemployment is down to 9% and that jobs are coming back. Fumble, where? In Barbados? You have been travelling overseas too much….you got to be mad. Just last month in the CBB report, the governor said that unemployment was 11% (which is another big lie……..unemployment has to be over 20%), so how could it drop by 2% in 30 days? You ever see lies?
On August 16, 2015, I submitted an article captioned “The Human Unemployment rate in Barbados – A cause for serious concern.”
In that article, I argued that if we paid a little more attention to our labour force participation rate, and less attention to our more contentiously calculated unemployment rate, then we would end up having a far better understanding of the nature of our unemployment problems.
From the outset, let me state that I have witnessed the published unemployment rates being used by some individuals to praise the Owen Arthur administration for its handling of the Barbadian economy over the period 1994 -2007. Likewise, I have seen the similarly calculated published unemployment rates being used by the same individuals to lambaste and berate the Freundel Stuart administration for its perceived mishandling of the economy since 2010.
Now that recently published figures have shown that, at March 31st 2016, the unemployment rate stood at 9.3%, I therefore find it disingenuous on the part of some individuals to dismiss this figure out of hand, and to assert that the true unemployment rate has to be 20% or more. If individuals want to demonstrate consistency in their arguments, they must now offer congratulations to Mr. Chris Sinckler, the Minister of Finance in particular, and to the Freundel Stuart administration in general, for getting the unemployment rate down to this level.
I am acutely aware that fertility rates, unemployment rates, and labour force participation rates are esoteric subjects, so I will quickly present a few numbers to stimulate some thinking about our unemployment problem.
The total labour force represents the amount of working-age Barbadians who were educated and kept alive by some of the taxes which we all paid over the years. They represent a national resource that the country invested in, and is now looking to get a return from. Of course there are some individuals (those imprisoned, those in mental institutions, those deemed medically unfit to work etc.) who must be excluded from the workforce for practical reasons.
In 2013, our labour force was 214, 000. At March 2015, it was 224,000. At March 2016, it was 222,000.
As the Baby Boomers retire, and as the impact of our low fertility rates begin to kick in, our labour force will shrink. Contributions and taxes from our reduced labour force, as Artaxerxes pointed out, will have to support escalating health care costs and increasing NIS payments demanded by a relatively large, retired cohort of Barbadians. Some of these Barbadians will live forty years or more in retirement so we have to start maximizing the use of our labour force NOW.
In 2013: 126,300 persons were employed. Therefore the gross labour force participation rate was 59% for 2013. That is, 126,300/214,000.
At March 2015: 127,900 persons were employed. Therefore the gross labour force participation rate was 57%.
At March 2016: 131,300 persons were employed. Therefore the gross labour force participation rate was 59%.
These gross labour force participation rates are much too low to create or sustain national economic growth!
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart colourfully and simply stated that “the government’s nipples are sore”. By so doing, he informed Barbadians that we can no longer look to the Government of Barbados to provide jobs for our unemployed. In fact, the Government of Barbados was forced to shed some jobs as part of its effort to bring balance and stability back to the economy of Barbados.
Unemployment in Barbados reached an all-time high in the 2nd quarter of 2014 (125,000 persons were employed in 2014). A cursory glance at the number of persons employed in 2015, and 2016 therefore support’s Prime Minister Freundel Stuart ‘s assertion that the lost jobs have returned to the economy. Again, we need to congratulate the government and urge our ministers to keep pressing on.
These small economic gains represent a step in the right direction. The banks are awash with money and are paying savers practically nothing on their deposits. The credit unions are awash with money. Some black and white individuals and businesses are awash with money. Why does it appear that everyone is sitting down and waiting on the government?
Certainly, with a little creativity, ingenuity, and hard work we can take the risk of establishing our own businesses and put our fellow Barbadians to work.
At the individual level, we need to start asking ourselves some searching questions. What skills do I possess? Are they legally marketable? Do I really have to sit down and wait for someone to hire me?
Working in concert with his grandson, our own pieceuhderockyeahright, a prolific commenter on BU, has demonstrated to us how creativity and ingenuity can create opportunities for individuals. I would not like to see him achieve his political goals, but with all my heart, I would love to see the energy and hard work, which he puts into the conceptualization and creation of his posters, blossom and financially flourish.
Who could fault or envy pieceuhderockyeahright for trying “to show de grandson that his talents with the “stoopid cartoons” are of great use and that, if wisely positioned could be a revenue stream?”
This is precisely the type of thinking, at the individual level, which can help the country of Barbados to trudge out of its deep economic morass.
Who knows how far this new venture will go? Who knows how much foreign exchange it will bring to Barbados?
There is a small, but very important, piece of detail which pieceuhderockyeahright mentioned with respect to the development of his product – obtaining a copyright from the department of Corporate Affairs. If we are going to be successful businessmen and women, we need to pay attention to minute details such as this. Any Barbadian who is serious about owning a business should go to “Corporate Affairs” and register A CORPORATION.
When you arrive on the 7th Floor of the Baobab Tower at Warrens, you will spend many, many minutes waiting at the counter unattended whilst the employees pore over big binders and try to do their best as they struggle under the weight of an apparent archaic system. Do not expect to achieve your objective on your first or second visit, unless the stars are perfectly aligned with your birth sign on that day. When you manage to get past the “counter stage”, be prepared to stand in another line to pay your fees and receive your receipt. If it is after 3:30 pm, “crapaud smoke yuh pipe”. You have to come back another day.
In a world of e-commerce and “paperless” offices, the situation at Corporate Affairs leaves a lot to be desired. That office needs to be brought into the 21st century.
The Permanent Secretary responsible for the Department of Corporate Affairs needs to find a solution to the problem. It should not be left to the Minister.