Larry Burchall. *File photo
Larry Burchall. *File photo

There was a time when a round of Limbo dancing was de rigeur in most Bermuda hotel properties. I confess that years ago, when I worked as a bartender at Newstead, I frequently did my national ‘duty’ by coming out from behind the bar and limbo-dancing under the pole. I was good – or so I thought. I could, then, get under a pole that was about calf height for an average height man.

Don’t think I could do that nowadays, but limbo-dancing came to mind when I saw the just out Annual Employment Brief for 2013.

I thought. “Employment numbers are limbo-dancing. They’Vve gotten lower and lower as if they’ve been following Chubby Checkers melodic dictum to see ‘how low can you go’?”

With filled jobs for 2013 reported as 34,277, the total number of filled jobs in Bermuda in 2013 was just above where the total filled jobs count was in 1995. In 1995, it was 34,143. So jobs regression has taken Bermuda’s whole economy back to where it was in 1995 — eighteen years ago.

At 24,504 Bermudians filling jobs in 2013, this filled jobs count is lower than it was in 1981 when it was 25,164. Worse than that, these annual reports only go back to 1981. So in 2013, the jobs count for Bermudians is actually lower than it was ‘before history began’.  That’s low. In limbo dancing, that would put the pole at Carlsberg Elephant bottle height. That’s really low.

The filled jobs count for Bermudians — the Bermudian economy — is lower than it was in 1981 — thirty-three years ago.

Guest worker* count is down to 9,773. That count has dropped 3,260 from its 2008 peak of 13,033.  At 9,773, the GW count is back to where it was in 2001 when it was 9,645. That was twelve years ago. This lower fall points to the uniqueness of Bermuda’s little-understood national economy.

When measured by the simple fact of jobs filled, Bermuda’s whole national economy has regressed, generally, to 2004. Bermuda has lost ten years! 

This limbo-dancing national economy is not pretty to watch or be part of.

* I include all non-Bermudians in my Guest Worker count. I’ve used this count method because it is absolutely consistent over the entire 33 years of record-keeping. My GW count therefore  includes Spouses, PRC’s, and Work Permit holders.