Even from the other side of the world I enjoy the nonsense coming out of Saint Lucia. Just recently, I read the following press release issued by the SLP: ‘The Saint Lucia Labour Party has welcomed news that the unemployment rate has reduced to approximately 20%. According to the Director of Statistics, Mr. Edwin St. Catherine, “Overall, 5,000 more persons were employed in the 4th quarter of 2015 compared to the 4th quarter of 2014.” ‘

This means that unemployment, presumably according to the SLP’s interpretation of the statistics, has gone down from 22% of the total workforce during the last three months of 2014, to 20% of the total workforce in the final quarter of 2015, a reduction of 2%. Let’s get this clear: 22% unemployment means 22 of every 100 employable people have no work, which was the case in 2014. At the end of 2015, ‘only’ 20%, that’s 20 fit and healthy people out of every 100, were without jobs, one fifth of the workforce. Yet the SLP sees fit to proudly announce that one in every five fit and healthy persons has no job, is marginalized, is unemployed, has no place to go each day, nothing useful to do, and probably no legal source of income.

Admittedly, according to the SLP’s reading of the statistics, 5,000 new jobs were created, which leads me to an interesting conclusion. Let’s see if you can follow. There has been a 2% reduction in the unemployment rate, agreed? This 2% reduction is there because 5,000 new jobs have been filled. Are you with me so far? Well, if 2% equals 5,000 jobs, then 1% equals 2,500 jobs. Are you still with me? The total workforce is of course 100%, so to find the number of people in the total workforce we have to multiply 1%, which is 2,500, by 100, which makes 250,000.

According to the figures presented in the SLP press release, 5,000 new jobs have been created between the final quarter of 2014 and the last three months of 2015, which has resulted in a 2% reduction in unemployment. If these figures are correct, then the total number of people in the Saint Lucian workforce must be 250,000. Think about it, Dear Reader. If you were to take every man, woman, teenager, child, born or unborn, in Saint Lucia you would still not be able to find 250,000 souls on the island – unless, of course, it were an election year when any number of additional voters might be found in certain circumstances – yet the SLP insists that 5,000 jobs represents 2% of the working population.

I am reliably informed that the actual workforce figure might be 77,000 but even this is shrouded in mystery. If the number 77,000 represents the number of people employed, then this number would represent 80% of the total workforce because 20% is unemployed. If this were so, then the total number of people in the workforce would be 96,250. However, if number 77,000 represents the total number of jobs, then only 61,600 people, 80% of the workforce, are gainfully employed on the island. We need, Dear Reader, clarification but either way, the SLP figures do not add up.

And another thing: If the number 77,000 represents the total number of jobs, then 5,000 new jobs would represent a 6.4% improvement, not the 2% that the SLP boasts about. If, on the other hand, the number 77,000 represent the total number of employed people, which is 80% of the total, then the total, as shown above, would be 96,250, and 5,000 new jobs would represent about an improvement of about 5.2%, again nothing close to the figures bandied about by the SLP, which is strange.

What is amazing is that the SLP claims a reduction of 2% from 2014 to 2015 because of the 5,000 new jobs they say they have created. Yet the figures – and the math is simple – based on the 77,000 workforce or 77,000 jobs indicate an improvement of between 5.2 and 6.4 percent. Of course, the SLP figures seem to indicate that Saint Lucia has at least 250,000 able-bodied workers, which, no matter how much you love the country, is a little hard to believe. Actually, it’s bullshit!

A word of caution: All the above is based on two bits of information reliably, I believe, supplied by the person who should know best. The first is that the unemployment figure for the last quarter of 2014 was 22%. The second is that the figure 77,000 either represents the total workforce or the total number of jobs available. The rest is simple math based on the information supplied in the SLP press release.