The George Brathwaite Column – Job Talk Versus Real Job Growth

Submitted by Dr. George C. Brathwaite

Unemplyment Stats 2015It is staggering when the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration comes across as being boastful against data suggesting that job growth in Barbados reached a point of satisfaction in which the unemployment rate supposedly dipped to 9.3 in the first three months – January to March – of 2016. According to data produced by the Barbados Statistical Service, the unemployment rate among males stood at 8.7 per cent and 10.0 per cent among females. Furthermore, the number of persons employed totalled 131 300.

This writer is concerned that the size of the workforce during this period is significantly lower than it was in 2008; yet, the DLP takes comfort in repeatedly honing in on an alleged decrease in the unemployment rate. The Barbados Economic & Social Report for 2008 indicates that the annual rate of unemployment for that year was “8.1 per cent, representing a 0.7 percentage point increase over the 7.4 per cent, which was recorded in 2007. … There was only a marginal increase in the labour force during 2008 which grew by approximately 100 individuals to record a labour force of 143,800 persons. The composition of the labour force at the end of 2008 was 73,700 males and 70,100 females. The total employed labour force in 2008 was 132,100 persons, comprising 68,700 males and 63,400 females.”

For countries like Barbados and in today’s world, it is very important that job creation and employment opportunities exist since the likelihood of more persons actively working is conducive to economic growth and enhancing national productivity. Indeed, the most recent IMF Article IV Consultation Report contends that “a comprehensive growth strategy is needed to lift” Barbados’ long‑term competitiveness in the key tourism sectors, together with setting “priorities for raising growth” which would “include timely implementation of tourism investment and infrastructure projects, improving public service efficiency and streamlining business regulation, increasing labor market flexibility, and unlocking agriculture’s growth potential.” Being identified here are too many key areas with potential in an economy that has been underperforming over the past eight years, and has been described as being stagnant and struggling to the point of reaching crisis proportions.

The Social and Economic Reports for 2013, 2014, and 2015 highlight the following information which at best can be described as unflattering for those potential workers wanting to enter the labour market and make some earned money so that they could feed their families and clothe their children. Considering that thousands of persons have been pushed, for one reason or another from the workforce, has to be a huge frustration to hear of unemployment lows when the suffering is high.

The multiple reports state that: At the end of 2013, there were 126,200 employed persons in Barbados. This was an increase of 900 persons when compared with the previous year, when 125,300 persons were recorded. … The unemployment rate remained at 11.6 per cent, consistent with 2012. The total labour force was estimated to be 142,900 persons, an increase of approximately 1,200 persons when compared with 2012. The composition of the labour force at the end of 2013 was 72,900 males and 70,000 females.

At the end of 2014, there were 124,800 employed persons in Barbados. This was a decrease of 6,600 persons when compared with the previous year, when 131,400 persons were recorded. … The unemployment rate stood at 12.8 per cent, an increase of 1.3 percentage points when compared with the same period 2013. …The unemployment rate rose to 12.3 per cent, up from 11.6 per cent at the end of 2013. … The total labour force was estimated to be 142,300 persons, a decline of approximately 6,400 persons when compared with 2013. The composition of the labour force at the end of 2014 was 72,000 males and 70,300 females.

At the end of 2015, there were 128,200 employed persons in Barbados. This was an increase of 3,400 persons when compared with the previous year, when 124,800 persons were recorded. … The unemployment rate fell to 11.3 per cent, down from 12.3 per cent at the end of 2014. … The total labour force was estimated to be 144,600 persons, an increase of approximately 2,300 persons when compared with 2014. The composition of the labour force at the end of 2015 was 72,900 males and 71,700 females.

Do not let the numbers fool or confuse us! Do not allow the political rhetoric coming from the mouths of Democratic Labour Party Ministers to convince us that the troubled Cabinet of Prime Minister Stuart is performing anywhere near optimal levels. Like the Barbados economy, the DLP Cabinet Ministers have flattered to deceive, while Barbadians continue to suffer the indignity of having to rely on seasonal employment, underemployment, and ‘brekking the odd job’ in the informal sectors of the economy.

All of the figures presented here clearly show that by the end of March 2016, the employed population in Barbados was smaller than it was in 2008 (i.e. 131, 300 in 2016 compared with 143, 800 in 2008). Unbelievable, considering the idle boasts of the DEMS. The incredulity of the data was aptly discussed in a July 8, 2016 Nation News Paper Editorial titled ‘Out of work, or unemployed?’ There was a relevant claim made suggesting that: “We would have to join all those who are more than a little curious about these latest statistics in asking for a detailed explanation on how they are compiled. We accept that there is science in statistics, but for ordinary citizens who live in the real world, the anecdotal evidence all around does not square with these numbers.”

Nevertheless, there must be growing concerns about the state of the economy in light of budget measures which include increased taxation and that would likely dampen some potential for employment growth. Where are the incentives for job creation in Barbados? Do the opportunities rest in projects such as the Hyatt which is said to begin work in September, even without the necessary approvals in place and properly detailed and communicated to the many stakeholders in Barbados? Will the opportunities emerge in the duty free zones for which the country still knows very little, if anything at all, on how these will work?

Why is it that the Minister of Labour can recognise the troubling effects of high youth unemployment, but Barbados is continuing to make macroeconomic plans without special provision for seeing these young people being captured in the proposals? Is the Finance Minister throwing already cracked eggs into a construction basket in which his credibility and the promise of projects have seldom reaped any synchronisation? Job number one for the next year has to be about jobs for our young people. Approaching 50 years of independence, significant job creation is the least that the DLP can do for good of nation.

(Dr. George C. Brathwaite is a researcher and political consultant, and up until recently, he was editor of Caribbean Times (Antigua). Email: )

21 thoughts on “The George Brathwaite Column – Job Talk Versus Real Job Growth

  1. I like the heading….jobs talk = 56 or 58 jobs in some McDonald’s like setting for minimum wage….read Burger King.

    Real Job Growth = in such a small island like Barbados, 5,000 jobs every quarter added to the economy for 2 years..

    Big difference if ya had government ministers from either patry with the intelligence to do so, but alas, their only skill set is waiting for shady minorities calling themselves business people to create minimum wage, McDonald’s type jobs.

  2. All work and not Jobs will come when the DBLP tell and show the truth of the true land owners in Barbados, Work will come as banks and loans return on “clear title land” people will work as a building boom come for the people of Barbados and not the with making more homes for tourist, People in Barbados need homes, wall homes or good green heart homes ,all trades will be working, to build for us not not for them ,



  5. Lol…..Reco, the time had to come when their mathematical lying exposed itself…they know the unemployment has been in the region of 18% or more for over 4 years, but they lied and lied…and now they cant walk back those figures of 10+8=18% unemployment…….lol.

  6. Excellent article George. Very clear and with statistics that show how easy it is to lie/ misinform with a ratio/fraction.

  7. It is not the question WHEN Bim´s economy recovers, but IF economy recovers at all.

    The wealth of a nation consists of exploitation of natural resources and/or high productivity. Barbados has only the sun, the beach and the rock. Productivity in the Deep South is very low in comparison to the North. Just try to do some business here, try to get any document from bureaucry or try to construct something here. They tell you time X and afterwards they only know these modes of operation: slow, slower and slowest.

    The problem is simply that Barbadians society is used to euphemism. A burning house is called “some smoke on the roof, not so bad”. A bankrupt business is called “the owner is on holiday outside the island”. A project delayed for half a year is called to be “on time”.

  8. George,
    Stop playing silly party politics and give unbiased opinions which will contribute to the public’s understanding of public policy.
    We educate our young people and all they do is join the backward party nonsense which has been going on before they were born.



  9. @ Hal Austin

    You wrote: “George,
    Stop playing silly party politics and give unbiased opinions which will contribute to the public’s understanding of public policy.
    We educate our young people and all they do is join the backward party nonsense which has been going on before they were born.”

    Pray tell me after reading the article where does the bias come in, particularly as the current administration has been boasting about a 9.3 figure which has failed to resonate with other agencies, the private sector, and with the many Barbadians desperate for a job.
    The reality is that the current administration has been playing tricks with phrases and partial statements without laying bare the facts. The statistical data presented here are official sources.
    You have lost me sir.

  10. Steupsss
    George, would you like Bushie to give you a topic to tackle?
    …you just made a mess of this one…. The figures are probably right…

    ‘Unemployment rates’ are not directly related to such factors as the size of the labour force or the number of persons working, or even the number of persons unemployed…

    Thanks to gerrymandering by politicians (largely led by YOUR party) this shiite about ‘unemployment rates’ has been DEFINED to basically mean “THOSE NOT LOOKING FOR WUK’

    Cud shiite!!
    If we have a pack of jackasses, led by a Froon, running the place…. and you see the lotta shiite they have been doing these past eight years…and you were not working….


    Boss.. let the JAs brag…
    Bushie is surprised that the ‘unemployment rate’ is higher than 2% …but then brass bowls still harbouring hopes of getting a pick from Four Seasons, Cahill and Hyatt….

  11. George,
    I agree this – and previous – governments have a statistical blindspot when it comes to the unemployed and the underemployed.
    However, from observation it is clear that the crisis of employment in Barbados is far worse then the official figures. But this has been a problem since the abolition of slavery.
    Some ago I had the opportunity to use the Foreign and Commonwealth office and was surprised at the central importance of employment in our development: Panama, the US, UK, Curacao, Aruba, down the islands, etc.
    The bias is in the repetitive nature of repeating these bogus figures, rather than job creating policies.
    As you know, the all important 16-24 year old cohort bears the brunt of unemployment, poor and lack of training.
    Even if under-qualified youngsters want to learn a trade the prices at the SJPP are prohibitive, when in the real world they should be free – so should the community college for under 24yr olds.
    But I am not just talking about any job, but meaningful jobs fit for the 21st century. Remember that Texas Instruments set up in Barbados in the mid-1960s with great promises, but as soon as the five-year tax free holiday was over it up sticks and left.
    There was no transfer of skills to local people.
    The same with the Iraqi super gun: worked on at the Barbados Foundry, now the site of the great white elephant that is the high courts.
    We live in a country obsessed with academic qualifications, no matter how irrelevant – media studies, cultural studies, economics, etc – rather than going the German way and setting up technical colleges. Whatever happened to the technical college we used to have.
    There are a lot of irrelevant statistics coming out of Barbados, just see the central bank, but policy is about making relevant analyses and not misleading the people. Neither Sinckler nor Stuart has that ability to offer thhat leadership.
    The role of young educated Barbadians is to lift the society up with intelligent conversation, no matter the abuse, rather than join in biased discussions in favour of any one party. Nation before party.

  12. “We live in a country obsessed with academic qualifications, no matter how irrelevant – media studies, cultural studies, economics, etc – rather than going the German way and setting up technical colleges.”

    And that will always be the downfall of both governments, their sole intent is to grow followers, political pimps and yardfowls, they do not know how to grow the island, people or progress beyond useless party politicss…they practice the idiocy of the slavery, many of them were not even born then…but that is all they know.

    Germany and Scandinavia will always be a sucess in that regard.

  13. The German way also includes massiv internal devaluation to save the budget and the industry: a reduction of civil servants by 30 % during the last 20 years, longer working hours (in the civil service up to 42 hours for lower levels, higher levels are expected to work 50-60 hours), less pension and the lowest wage increase of all industrialised countries. Not to forget using the Euro crisis to switch nearly all treasury bonds to an interest rate of 0 % or to a negative (!) interest rate. The result is a massive budget surplus of 18.5 billion Euro during the first half of 2016 despite the refugee crisis.

  14. Economic and political thought remain theories perhaps best suited for measuring outcomes. Sir the lens you use lacks a framework that protects individual ideas extreme. Take a practical example one can prune a tree which if often good, but if done at the wrong or in excess will kill the tree. The Barbados economy is part of a larger pool many of which have low growth rates. The issues at hand did not start in 2008. They are structural, they suffer from the scourge of poor one sided thinking. We can be guided by science principles but right now, the economist are crowing loud.

  15. @Insider

    And what was the massive budget surplus spent on? And how did it benefit the ordinary German?

  16. “rather than going the German way and setting up technical colleges.”

    Ah think the point is being missed here…Germany does not depend on only one sector for survival….education for their young people can hardly be matched.

  17. Surplus 2015 was used as a backup for refugee crisis, but since the surplus is growing and growing we will possibly see some slight reduction of income tax and higher investments to expand the roads system. It could also happen that the surplus is partially used to lower public debts. Benefit for ordinary Germans: marginal.

    For Merkiavelli the surplus is more important to secure the AAA by all three big rating agencies. The triple-triple-A plus BREXIT plus the Russian threat in the East will help Merkiavelli to execute her plan for a new order for Europe.

  18. @ the Honourable Blogmaster

    You point about George Brathwaite s warmed over soup has been on my lips from the first time I read the mouthings of the “researcher and political cuntsultant”

    The is nothing new or original or thought provoking about any of his submissions that speak to charting a new and relevant path.

    If one were to propose just one of GCB’s articles which provide an iota of viable alternative then de ole man would be prepared to eat the Central Bank table dat de researcher and political cuntsultant has posted above.

    The old order of BDLP politics was based on the point scoring game of blaming one’ opposition though highlighting the litany of infamous works the other party did but, given what we are seeing at 2016, there is nothing different in either of their styles for both seem bereft of ideas that facilitate true change.

    And the sad thing about this political soap opera is that they are both incapable of attracting the cadre of people during either’s tenure, that is capable of effecting noted change.

    Put what de ole man is saying to the test.

    Let us do a benchmarking for the last 20 years.

    Health nothing, Social Care nothing, Education, The Edutech waste foopism, Tourism, more scandals, Entrepreneurial Initiatives, the first 10 years was the age of EGFL and FundAccess, when the BLP was in power, but what do we have to show for it? hardwood?

    The sad fact about where we are is that the famine in intellectual provisions besieges us on both sides and George, while better educated than AC aka Legion, is just as dim and devoid of any real useful content, other than blame.

    In computer talk they represent the X frame Internet hacking scam where, while you clich on a like button, or other visible icon, underlying that link is a code which gives the hacker unfettered, persistent access to your hard drive.

    Under the beguiling facade of all this bluster what you come to realize is that both of these parties ARE THE SAME, EMPTY ORIFICES incapable of facilitating progress, both useless like their respective manifestos

  19. i believe the unployment got to be more than 18% take2014 when all those people was made redundant,after that then u had people ging home secretly, banks just layoff 48 and i understand more going home, westmoreland layoff, port inc. made redundant an some gine home in small numbers, look tim walsh had about 30 wrkers he had to send off through the bearcum fiasco an these fool talking about 9% unployment here…IT SEEM TO ME LIKE THE PEOPLE OF BARBADOS LOVE TO BE TORTURED IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY BY THIS GOVERNMENT, SO THEREFORE WE GOTTA WAIT TILL 2018, DO WE UNDERSTAND THE CARNAGE THESE MISCREANTS WILL LEAVE BEHIND?

  20. @ recoanthony

    While it is 17 months before elections are constitutionally due, based on your comment where you ascribe the blame on the bajan populace, it would be interesting to hear what, barring a deluge of David Come Sing a Song-like lawsuits by multiple lawyers, what you propose to lawfully do to end their reign of terror before then??

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