I’ve always described Bermuda’s economy as a unique economy. Even so, things here still follow the general laws of economics. For instance, the relationship between supply and demand is not different here; nor is there any difference in the relationship between the supply of money and the desire for choice.
It’s clear that Bermuda residents pay, not just for goods, but also for the ability to have a choice of goods. That’s one of the main reasons why Bermudians shop abroad and over the Internet. Their action is driven by choice and is not, in the main, limited by price; though price is a factor.
In this general aspect, Bermuda is similar to a wealthy American town like Danbury, Connecticut, or a wealthy area like ‘Park Avenue’ New York. There, local shops carry the kind of goods that their customers want. No ‘Dollar Stores’ on Park Avenue. Tiffany’s not Zales.
Bermuda certainly has that top end reality. Bermuda also has a bottom end reality.
Bermuda has an economy in which both politicians and statistician’s talk of a ‘poverty line’ of $30,000 per annum. This Bermuda poverty line is a reality accepted and agreed by the warm-blooded PLP and UBP, and the cold-blooded statisticians.
Bermuda has a national ‘median’ household income of $70,777 per year. At least that was what the 2000 Census reported. Since that was six years ago, it would be even higher now, in 2006.
In 2006, we talk of ‘average’ house prices of $960,000 – and for that we expect to get a two bedroom cottage. A cheap two-bedroom condo comes on the market at $645,000. At the other end, there are houses for sale from $5,000,000 to $45,000,000.
Mixed up in all this is a peculiar little thing that I simply do not understand. I need help in understanding this, and I am asking, genuinely asking, for help.
It’s reported and agreed that Bermuda has about 38,000 active working workers. It’s reported and agreed that there are only about 27,000 Bermudian workers, and that the remaining 11,000 workers are non-Bermudians who are in Bermuda working on Work Permits.
Given that it is unlawful for any non-Bermudian to ‘seek work’ in the way that a Bermudian can seek work, it must follow that there are no ‘un-employed’ non-Bermudians – in Bermuda – who are seeking work – in Bermuda. That must mean, therefore, that only Bermudians can be defined as, or said to be, un-employed and seeking work.
Simply, very simply – the only un-employed people in Bermuda have to be Bermudians. There cannot be any un-employed non-Bermudians because they are supposed to get on a plane or boat or raft and vamoose as soon as their ‘work permit job’ ends or their work permit expires.
If, then, every Bermudian has a job choice amongst 38,000 jobs; if 27,000 Bermudians then choose jobs and start working; if 11,000 non-Bermudians then have to be imported to fill the remaining 11,000 jobs – how can any Bermudian be described as unemployed?
Surely in an economy that imports actuaries, beauticians, cooks…gardeners, hairdressers, insurance specialists…potwashers, radiographers, teachers….; there must be a job – somewhere – that one more Bermudian can do. With 11,000 jobs to pick from, there must be at least one suitable choice for one more Bermudian.
To my mind, Bermuda – from a purely national Bermuda aspect – has 40% over-employment. To my mind, the arithmetic says that 29% of the total 38,000 jobs that exist in Bermuda can disappear before Bermudians start becoming unemployed. To my mind, there cannot be national unemployment in a national economy that imports such a huge chunk of extra people to do ordinary national work. There cannot be.
I put it arithematically. 27,000 Bermudians = 100% employed. 11,000 non-Bermudians = 40% additional employed. Overall employment [relative to available Bermudians] = 140%.
How can Bermuda have 3% – 2% – even 1% – ‘unemployed’ Bermudians?
Please, people, please, unlimber those BSc’s, MSc’s, BA’s, MA’s, and PhD’s; please turn on the plain old common-sense; and enlighten this poor befuddled Bermudian. Please?