In 2020, the number of full time Gozitan workers employed with the private sector in Gozo reached an all time high.
Many had expected the pandemic to bear heavily on Gozo. An island so dependent on tourism, was bound to face a dire future with both the airport and internal domestic tourism channel closed for several months. Yet the number of Gozitans registering for work remained stubbornly low. At the height of the pandemic, it only amounted to just over 300, as against nearly 750 in March 2013. By June 2021 Gozo was registering its lowest unemployment in history.
Recently released labour data shed light on this phenomenon. In 2020 the number of people working in Gozo reached a record level of 14,313. This means an increase of 530 people over 2019, or nearly 4% higher. This was four times the growth observed in Malta. Shielded by government assistance, which was even more generous than the already quite generous help afforded to Maltese firms, Gozitan employers keep on hiring workers.
This increase was not driven by higher public sector recruitment. According to official data, in 2020 there were 3,910 Gozitan residents working in the public sector in Gozo. This was 90 persons more than in 2019. Compare this with the rise of 434 full-timers with the private sector. 8 out of 10 Gozitans who found employment in Gozo during the pandemic year found it working full-time with the private sector. Among the sectors driving up job creation in Gozo in 2020 one finds professional and administrative services (with 249 additional employees), recreational services (with 33 more workers), construction (with 35 more employees), and information and communication (adding another 28 employed).
In 2020 the number of people working in Gozo reached a record level of 14,313.
In the first year of the pandemic, instead of a jobs cataclysm in Gozo there has been a very strong rise in private sector employment. This contrasts with the situation in 2012, where the increase in full-time private sector jobs was four times less. While in 2013 37% of all Gozitans working in Gozo were employed full-time with the public sector, by 2020 this had fallen to 27%.
Since 2012 the number of Gozitans working in Gozo has increased by almost 4,500, or by 46%. Those working full-time with the private sector increased by 75%. Consistently 8 out of 10 of all new employment opportunities in Gozo have been full-time jobs with the private sector. Every week since the change of administration there has been an increase of 11 Gozitan residents working in Gozo itself. In contrast, before 2013 the pace of job creation in Gozo had been of less than 2 per week.
The economic turnaround in Gozo is so substantial, and based on strong fundamentals, that it not just withstood the pandemic, but continued to generate prosperity. The Maltese economy has been very resilient to the economic shock of COVID-19, but the Gozitan economy has proven to be even more.
This data confirm what PM Robert Abela said in his Budget 2022 speech, that never in history have there been so many Gozitans working full-time on their own island in the private sector.
Gozo’s economic performance is the best certificate of the effectiveness of progressive politics. If policymakers provide a right environment and well-thought incentives, individuals react positively and create a prosperity that is self-sustaining and able to resist economic shocks.