Labor force survey underway

All-female interview team to knock on 1,200 doors

The department of statistics (STAT) embarked on its labor force survey. The project will take eight weeks to complete and the department expects to produce a report about the data its interviewers are currently collecting sometime in May.

The last labor force survey was held in 2013, but Makini Hickinson, head of the STAT department said that from now on it is the intention to do the survey every year.

In the 2013 survey, 80 percent of the households visited by the interviewers cooperated and Hickinson is calling on citizens to give their cooperation again this time.

The survey will be conducted among a cross section of 1,200 households. The total number of households on Dutch St. Maarten is currently 14,000.

Senior statistician Joy-Ann van Arneman explained yesterday that the interviews will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. The survey consists of four sections. The first one contains general questions about the makeup of the household; the second section deals with past and present education and the third section is about employment status.

“We will ask people whether they are employed, what type of job they hold, under what type of contract they are working, and what kind of benefits they enjoy,” Van Arneman said.

The STAT-interviewers – an all-female team of ten – has been trained for this particular project; they have all signed a confidentiality agreement.

Van Arneman emphasizes that the survey will produce data about groups and not about individual citizens.

Interviewers started knocking on doors yesterday. They will conduct interviews during the day and also in the weekend, but not after 7.30 p.m.

Makini Hickinson said that the interview-part of the project is scheduled to be completed on March 11.

The 2013 labor force survey showed that there were 19,137 people holding a job, almost 12 percent more than in 2011 when data were collected for the census. There were 1,934 unemployed citizens – a decline of 13.2 percent compared to 2011.

Most unemployed in 2013 were in the 25-44 age category (722), followed by 45+ (653) and 15-24 (559).

With a labor force of 21,071, the overall unemployment rate in 2013 was 9.2 percent, two percent lower than it was in 2011. The labor force in the youngest group was 2,160 strong and unemployment among them stood at a dazzling 25.9 percent. In the other age categories the unemployment rate was 6.9 (25-44) and 7.7 percent (45+) respectively.

Unemployment among men (1,068 on a work force of 10,797) was 9.9 percent and among women (867 on a work force of 10,276) 8.4 percent.

The survey furthermore showed that 60.6 percent earned at most 3,000 guilders per month. In 2011 this was 48.9 percent. In the higher income groups there was a decline. The group of earners of between 3,001 and 4,000 guilders declined by 3.1 percent, between 5,001 and 6,000 guilders by 1.9 percent and between 7,001 and 8,000 guilders by 1.4 percent. The sharpest drop was in the highest income level (10,000 guilders or more): 4.3 percent, a trend that indicates a brain drain.

Unemployment was the highest among citizens with elementary (11.4 percent) and secondary 1-level education (11.9 percent). The unemployment rate among higher educated citizens hovers around 2.6 percent.

With the results of the survey that is currently underway, STAT will update its statistics that form the basis for the government’s policy-making. 

CAP : Makini Hickinson (l) and Joy-Ann van Arneman. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar

Hilbert Haar (Today)