Labour ministry releases main findings of draft National Labour Force Survey, 2014

Labour: Following recent discussions on the issue of unemployment in the ongoing National Assembly and National Council sessions, the labour ministry yesterday released the main findings of the draft National Labour Force Survey, 2014 to set the record straight and allay doubts on the unemployment figures.

According to the labour ministry’s press release, the national unemployment rate has decreased by 0.3 percent in 2014 from 2013.  The female unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent, while the male unemployment rate is 1.9 percent.

The press release states that the youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate has also decreased by 0.2 percent from 9.6 percent in 2013 to 9.4 percent in 2014.  The female youth unemployment rate is 10 percent and the male youth unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.

“The decline in both the national and youth unemployment rates is attributed to the improved economy of the country in 2014 and the government’s new initiatives on employment promotion & facilitation programs, such as Guaranteed Employment Programs (GEP) – Direct Employment Scheme (DES), Employment Skills Programs (ESP) and Overseas Employment Scheme (OES),” the press release states.

On June 1, the opposition had moved a motion at the National Assembly to discuss unemployment issues in the country. 

Kengkhar-Weringla’s representative Rinzin Jamtsho said that the unemployment problem in the country had become a crisis and proposed that the government needed to consider this as an important issue and come up with appropriate solutions.

Labour minister Ngeema Sangay Tshempo had informed that good economic condition of the country was imperative to create job opportunities.  Lyonpo had said that the drop in unemployment rate to 2.6 percent in 2014 from 2.9 percent in 2013 was a commendable outcome.

He had also informed the house that, as of May 31, 2015, the government had provided jobs to a total of 15,840 individuals and a sum of Nu 1,034 million was allotted to generate employment opportunities in the 11th Plan.

During the 12th National Job Fair in Thimphu last month, lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo had said that, even if the youth unemployment rate had declined, it continued to be a major concern for the government.

According to the press release, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) is estimated at 62.6 percent in 2014, a drop from 2013’s 65.3 percent.  The LFPR is 71 percent for males and 54.8 percent for females. “The decline in the LFPR to 62.6 percent is mainly due to increased number of economically inactive population, those who are 15 years and above,” the press release states.

The economically inactive population comprises students at 49.2 percent, followed by 26.9 percent, who are engaged in household/family duties, and 16.4 percent who are economically inactive due to old age.

According to the survey, the youth population stood at 145,611 of which 76,531 were females.  The total labour force is estimated at 348,742, with 76.4 percent of the total employed persons working in informal sectors like in agri-farming.

On May 27, the National Council, while deliberating the preliminary report on “employment policies, programmes and strategies”, found that unemployment was a result of poor coordination among agencies.  Ten council members had raised their concerns and recommendations relating to education policy, youth unemployment, overseas employment, dignity of labour, employment in the private sector, fluctuating unemployment rates and a need for balanced regional development. 

The 12th labour force survey, according to the press release, was conducted for the first time using the computer assisted personal interview ,and covered all the dzongkhags with the national representative sample of 6,000 households.  It states that the methodology for the survey was adopted in consultation with the National Statistics Bureau and was based on international labour organisation and United Nations system of national accounts guidelines.

By Dechen Tshomo