Despite the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the average worker in the BVI saw an increase in earnings in 2021.
Based on statistics from Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley’s 2023 budget presentation this week, average earnings in the territory increased by five per cent in 2021. The figures showed that in 2020, the average worker earned $25,144 but that figure increased to $26,398 in 2021.
Premier Wheatley said the increase in salaries and wages showed resilience in the economy as the BVI eased out of very restrictive anti-COVID
Another indicator that showed how well the economy performed in 2021 was population growth which has a direct link to the number of jobs available locally.
By the end of 2021, there were 20,747 persons employed throughout the Virgin Islands
. This is a decline from the 21,254 employees that were in the territory in 2019.
Explanation for population/employment decline
Premier Wheatley said the Virgin Islands
population normally grows at a rate of 2.6 per cent. This trend continued annually up until 2017 when there was a 9.1 per cent decline in the population as persons left the territory due to the disasters from the floods and the two category five hurricanes.
However, in 2018 there was a three per cent increase in population as persons returned to the Virgin Islands
. Since 2018, the growth of the population commenced its upward climb as the country began to rebuild, and there was a need for a significant influx of labour.
In 2019, there was substantial growth in employment of 10 per cent or 21,254 employees, compared to 19,317 employees in 2018.
The Premier said the 2020 pandemic again resulted in a decline in the growth of employment but the BVI is expecting another increase in the workforce as recovery from the pandemic continues.
In the meantime, the Premier said despite the decline in employment in both 2020 and 2021, 548 and 251 new businesses opened in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The Premier said this is also a great sign of resilience in the economy.