PHILIPSBURG–A total of 204 persons have registered as unemployed so far for this year, figures provided to Members of Parliament (MPs) by Acting Labour Minister, Prime Minister Leona Romeo during a Parliament meeting on Monday, showed.
Of the 204, who registered as unemployed, 106 were Dutch nationals, 10 were Jamaicans, 10 were from Dominica; nine were from Haiti; seven from the Dominican Republic and 62 from other nationalities or from unknown nationalities.
According to the information provided to MPs, the numbers include persons who registered as unemployed because it is a condition for receiving financial or medical aid. “Not all of these persons are actually available for the labour market. This may be because of a disability or other circumstances. Therefore, this number should not be taken as a measure for the actual unemployment in the labour market,” the information stated.
The Department of Statistics conducts a labour market survey, which gives a better indication of actual unemployment. However, there is a great difference between high season and low season numbers, the info stated. “The 2018 survey – low season – showed a 9.0-per-cent unemployment rate, which was in line with the previous low season measurements (between 9 and 12 per cent). So, even in the first post-Irma year, St. Maarten’s unemployment numbers were in fact, not as high as might be expected.”
The info stated that post-Hurricane Irma created a huge gap in the labour market within the hospitality sector. “There were literally little to no jobs available and high unemployment amongst the sector specific workers. Within the boom in the construction sector, many persons were unemployable due to lack of suitable construction skills and/or willingness to take on this physically demanding sector, making it a challenge to match job seekers with registered vacancies. The number of unemployed job seekers registered by the Labour Affairs Agency should not be confused with the unemployment rate in society.”
In 2018, 472 persons registered as unemployed at the Department, including persons who are required to register as a prerequisite to receive financial and medical aid, and persons who are unemployable due to disability, for example.
Of this number, 157 were assessed for “labour market readiness;” 44 were referred to job opportunities and six found employment via the Department of Labour.
In 2017, a total of 433 registered as unemployed and in 2016, 507 persons registered. According to the figures, in 2017, a total of 130 persons were assessed for “labour market readiness;” 67 were referred to job opportunities: and 16 found employment via the Labour Department.
In 2016, 253 persons were assessed for labour market readiness; 44 found employment via the Labour Department.
Following Hurricane Irma, there was a large skills mismatch between supply and demand in the labour market. “A large number of hospitality workers became unemployed, while the available jobs at the time were mainly in the construction sector. Low economic activity in the construction sector led to few vacancies available for the current unemployed. This limited the chances of successful employment, possibly accounting for the low placement numbers by the department,” the info read.
“To address this, the Department of Social Services and Labour Affairs adapted its services to manage the need of government support to the unemployed. The Emergency Income and Training Project has absorbed more than 1,000 unemployed persons, mainly employees from large hotels to bridge the period until their place of work opens for business again. This explains why the number for “found employment via the Labour Affairs Agency” seems low in 2018. Many unemployed and underemployed found their way through the Department of Labour Affairs into the EISTP (Emergency Income Support Training Programme) and successfully re-entered jobs. This situation is continuing in 2019.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/90351-204-persons-registered-as-unemployed-so-far-in-2019