Joblessness jumped in 2018-19: labour survey

By Nasir Jamal
Published in Dawn on September 17, 2021

LAHORE: The country’s unemployment rate jumped from 5.8 per cent in 2017-18 to 6.9pc in 2018-19, the first year of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in power, according to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Thursday.

In absolute terms, the number of people actively looking for jobs increased by 0.92 million to 4.71m in FY19 from 3.79m the previous year as the number of the country’s total workforce rose to 68.73m from 65.5m during the period under review. It also meant that at least 3.23m people entered the market seeking employment at a time when the national economy’s capacity to create new jobs had just started shrinking and the businesses had started laying off their employees owing to the emerging macroeconomic imbalances.

The increase in unemployment was observed in case of both males and females, with the male unemployment rate rising from 5.1pc to 5.9pc and female unemployment rate jumping from 8.3pc to 10pc. The disaggregated LFS data shows that the unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 7.9pc, up from 7.2pc a year before.

Increase in unemployment rate more pronounced in rural areas

But the increase in unemployment was more pronounced in rural areas where it surged to 6.4pc from 5pc. The sharper escalation in rural unemployment is attributed to higher female unemployment, which spiked to 8.5pc from 5.9pc during the period under review. This compares to rural male unemployment of 5.5pc and 4.7pc for the two years under review.

The labour participation rate stood at 44.8pc as 68.73m males and females accounted for the total labour force out of 153.5m — 77.4m males and 76.1m females — working age population. Majority of the working age population, 94.1m, lives in rural areas and 59.3m in urban areas.

The number of employed males grew to 49.3m in FY19, with 27.3pc working in the formal sector and the rest in the informal sector during the survey year, from 48.2m the previous fiscal. Likewise, the number of employed females jumped from 13.5m to 14.7m, with 29.5pc working in the formal sector.

Agriculture remains the largest employer absorbing 39.2pc of the total workforce compared to 38.5pc the previous year despite its less than a fifth share in the economy. It is followed closely by the services sector accounting for 37.8pc employment and manufacturing absorbing 23pc, down from 23.7pc, job market. The services sector contributes above 60pc to the economy and manufacturing around 20pc.

The survey results show that the informal sector accounts for 72.4pc of non-agricultural employment with more in rural (76.7pc) than in urban areas (68.1pc). The formal sector activities are concentrated more in urban areas (31.9pc) than in rural areas (23.3pc). The share of females in comparison to the share of males is more evident in urban formal (39.5pc) and rural informal (78.6pc) sectors, while the share of males is more prominent in rural formal (23.6pc) and urban informal (69pc).

The survey also indicates changes in employment shares with an increase observed in agriculture, forestry, fishing, construction, community/social and personal services. However, the jobs decline in manufacturing and wholesale & retail trade. While 39.8pc of the workforce is categorised as employees, 35.8pc is classified as own account workers, 22.9pc as contributing family workers and 1.5pc as employers. More than half female workers or 56.9pc toil as contributing family workers while more than eight out of 10 males are own account workers(40.2pc) and employees(45.1pc).

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