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Jobs hit a record high – but farm workers fall by quarter

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THE number of farm and fisheries workers in Jersey has fallen by a quarter over five years but growth in other sectors has created a record number of jobs in the Island, new figures have revealed.

The latest Labour Market Report, produced by Statistics Jersey, has revealed that since 2014 the number of agriculture and fisheries jobs has fallen by 380 and now stands at 1,270.

National Famers’ Union president Peter Le Maistre said that farmers have had no choice but to reduce their workforces as the increasing minimum wage has pushed up labour costs. A further recommendation to raise the minimum wage by 3.8% next year has been made.

Meanwhile, other sectors, including finance, technology and construction, have all seen a healthy increase in jobs over the same period, indicating the further transition of Jersey’s workforce from its fields and farms to town office blocks.

The total number of jobs in Jersey has steadily increased over the last five years and in the latest report, based on June 2019 figures, was 62,440, which was the highest figure ever recorded.

In the last period, jobs in finance – the largest sector – increased by 8% reaching 13,680, the number of workers in information and communication rose 15% to 1,840, while construction and quarrying posts boomed, going up 18% to 5,990.

The number of jobs in the public sector increased by 110 over the past year to 7,810, but has fallen by around 600 positions since 2014.

Peter Le Maistre, president of the Jersey Farmers’ Union, said that he was not ‘surprised at all’ by the figures for his industry.

‘The minimum wage has gone up by something like 25% in that time and farmers have tried to reduce their labour force by things like mechanisation,’ he said.

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‘Also in that time a number of farmers have gone out of business. There was one specialist grower who had to give up his business and he had employed ten to 12 people. His farm was converted to potato crops and they only employed one or two people.

‘There have also been a couple of dairy farms that have closed and their herds have been incorporated into other herds, so there have been job losses there too.’

Mr Le Maistre said that he expected the trend to continue as farmers faced increasing pressure on staff costs.

‘I think most growers are waiting for the government to introduce its productivity policy, which has been promised for two years now,’ he said.

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‘That will help farmers invest in mechanisms and machinery to further reduce their workforce because of the increased cost of labour.’

Joe Moynihan, chief executive of Jersey Finance, said that growth in the Island’s funds sector had been ‘particularly positive’ over the past five years.

He added that the Island’s finance industry was looking to secure further growth in the US market.

‘Overall, these figures reflect an ongoing trend of gradually rising employment figures across the finance industry,’ he said.

‘While the accountancy and trust sectors have seen positive growth over the past five years, reflecting a rising demand we have seen in the private wealth space, the figures for our funds sector are particularly positive.

‘The near 50% growth we’ve seen in fund-administration jobs over the past five years is in keeping with the growth we’ve seen in business flows – recently Jersey recorded its highest ever level of fund assets under administration of £342 billion.

‘We fully expect this trend to continue in light of Brexit and as we ramp up our efforts in the US following the opening of our New York office this month.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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