Sherab Lhamo

The urban-rural youth unemployment gap in Bhutan has decreased from 18.8 percent in 2013 to 12.9 percent in 2022, with urban unemployment at 10.4 percent and rural unemployment at 3.4 percent, as per the fourteenth Labour Market Information Bulletin (LMIB).

The report revealed that 63.5 percent of rural workers were skilled in agriculture, while 63.5 percent of urban workers were in service and sales.

The Bhutanese labor market is predominantly informal, with individuals engaged as casual, contract, or family workers between 2013 and 2022.

However, the past three years witnessed a significant surge in unemployment rates, averaging between four to six percent annually, compared to the 2013-2019 range of 3.4 percent.

In the fiscal year 2022-2023, 11,387 positions were created, but with 26,164 active job seekers in the Bhutan Labour Market Information System, the gap between registered job seekers and total vacancies widened, as reported by the Employment Services Division.

Bhutan’s working-age population is estimated at 484,965, with 63.1 percent actively engaged in the workforce and 36.9% out of the labor force.

Government initiatives, including the Guaranteed Employment Programme, aim to connect job seekers with opportunities, spanning Overseas Employment, Skills Development, Youth Engagement and Livelihood, Build Bhutan Project, Entrepreneurship Development, and the GOWA Forum.

The report underscores the importance of investigating factors such as wages, benefits, nature of employment (regular, contract, or temporary), and alignment with academic background to address employment challenges effectively.