Yangchen C Rinzin 

Aggravated by the overseas returnees and laid-off employees due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s unemployment rate has reached five percent, according to the Labour Force Survey Report (LFS).

The unemployed rate almost doubled from 2.7 percent in 2019.

The report, which was released yesterday, states that this is the highest unemployment rate since 2016.  The employment rate was 3.7 in 2018.

This means that there are 16,660 economically active people, who are jobless, seeking a job and available for work during the reference period of the survey.

All persons in the working-age population who were/are employed or unemployed during the reference period are referred to as economically active population or labour force.

The report states that, apart from the returnees and laid-off employees, the pandemic also affected business and service sectors that disturbed employment opportunities.

The report reveals that other reasons for being unemployed are recently completed studies, lack of adequate qualifications, and lack of experience for the available job.

“The tourism and hospitality industry was the worst hit by the pandemic and records show a high number of jobless people,” report says.

However, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) categorises one as unemployed only if one satisfies three conditions simultaneously: the person must be without a job, must be seeking work, and must be available for work if there is an opportunity.

The unemployment rate for females (6.0%) is higher than that of males (4.1%) going by the report. “A higher rate in unemployment indicates a declining economy and its inability to absorb people of working age.”

Thimphu has the highest unemployment rate with 12.3 percent, followed by Paro (9.4%), Chukha (5.8%), and Punakha (5.2%).  In most of the dzongkhags, the female unemployment rate is higher.

The survey shows that the highest unemployment rate is observed amongst persons with bachelor’s degree, followed by higher secondary, and diploma education levels.

The overall youth unemployment rate has also increased to 22.6 percent from 11.9 percent in 2019.

Out of the total unemployed youth, about 38.7 percent are males and 61.3 percent are females.

Youth unemployment rate, according to the survey, is defined as the percentage of unemployed persons in the age group 15-24 years to the economically active population in the same age group.

In terms of absolute numbers, there is 6,922 unemployed youth who are without work, actively seeking and are available for work during the reference period.

The youth unemployed rate 22.6 percent is also the highest to date.

The youth unemployment rate estimated for male (19.2%) is lower than female (25.4%).  Thimphu has the highest youth unemployment rate, followed by Paro.

“Investment in employment creation has been the top priority over the years for the government. However, involvement and investments from the private sector play an equally important role in solving youth unemployment issues,” the report says.

The 18th LFS was conducted in the months of November and December last year.

A total of 9,012 households were selected from twenty dzongkhags, out of which about 3,420 households were in urban areas and 5,592 households in rural areas.

From the 9,012 sample households, 8,932 households responded to the survey questionnaire, giving a response rate of 99.1 percent.

A total of 124 enumerators and 20 supervisors were engaged in data collection.