The real employment and economic management numbers in St Lucia

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Dear Sir

On Friday, June 26, 2020, Alva Baptiste, parliamentary representative for Laborie provided the following comparison of the employment and economic management record of governments of Saint Lucia from 1997 to 2019.

Last month, the member for Vieux Fort South and former prime minister, noted a trend towards presenting official statistics by this government, in a manner distorted to favour their political narrative. The unemployment numbers are a classic case where selective figures are presented to give a distorted view of the true story.

However, let us examine the facts regarding the employment figures, and I am quoting official public data available from the website of the Central Statistical Office of Saint at www.stats.gov.lc – the labour force section, main labour force indicators (Annual) 1994 to 2019 and main labour force indicators (Quarterly) 2011 to 2019:

  1. In 1997, when the labour party entered government, the unemployment rate was 22 percent and trending upwards;
  2. In 2006, when the labour party left office, the unemployment rate was 16.7 percent and trending downwards;
  3. The United Workers Party (UWP) government of 2006 – 2011 with the current prime minister in charge of Tourism – the main economic driver – left an unemployment rate for the incoming labour government of 21.2 percent and climbing;
  4. The labour government stabilized the economy between 2011 and 2016 and when it left office in June 2016, unemployment was at 21.4 percent and trending downwards;
  5. The current prime minister boasts of an unemployment rate of 16.8 percent at the end of 2019, largely due to the base for growth set by the previous labour government, the migration of workers overseas, and a reduction in the number of people seeking employment.

From 2016 to 2019, Saint Lucia’s labour force declined by 3,649 people or 3.5 percent, from 104,625 people to 100,976, thereby assisting with the reduction of the unemployment rate. This had nothing to do with government policy.

Let me now present from the same source, some employment numbers conveniently omitted by the prime minister and his political operatives:

  1. From 1997 to 2006 the labour government increased the number of employed people in Saint Lucia by 10,161 people or 18.2 percent from 55,875 to 66,036 people;
  2. From 2006 to 2011 the UWP administration increased the number of employed people in Saint Lucia by 4,980 people or 7.5 percent from 66,036 to 71,016 people;
  3. From 2011 to 2016 the labour government increased the number of employed people in Saint Lucia by 11,363 people or 16 percent from 71,016 to 82,379 people.

Here is the current prime minister’s record since coming into office:

  1. In 2017, the number of employed people in Saint Lucia declined by 661 people or 0.8 percent from 82,379 to 81,718 people;
  2. In 2018, the number of employed people in Saint Lucia declined by a further 302 people or 0.3 percent from 81,718 to 81,416 people;
  3. In 2019, the number of employed people in Saint Lucia increased by 2,561 people or 3.1 percent from 81,416 to 83,977 people;
  4. The net increase from 2017 to 2019 is 1,598 people from 82,379 to 83,977 people.

From 1997 to 2019 a total of 28,102 new jobs have been created in Saint Lucia. Out of these, 21,524 jobs or 76.6 percent were created during the tenure of labour governments and 6,578 jobs or 23.4 percent were created under UWP governments.

Of the 6,578 jobs created under UWP administrations, 75.7 percent were created under the stewardship of the member for Castries North as prime minister, while a paltry 24.3 percent were created under the current prime minister.

Does the member for Micoud South and his back-up choir, still want to talk about economic growth and employment?

These figures clearly illustrate that the labour party has a far better job creation record than the UWP, yet they engage in boastfulness. So the prime minister must not play games with the unemployment numbers, especially as his policies have cost Saint Lucians thousands of jobs.

All his idle boasts about growth and the unemployment rate have come to zero with COVID-19, where thousands of jobs have been lost. So let him tell us, what is the unemployment rate now, and how many jobs he has created lately, as minister for job creation?

Alva R. Baptiste

Member of Parliament for Laborie

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