The overall unemployment rate decreases to 2.7% as per LFSR

Yangchen C Rinzin

Decrease in the youth population, youth preferring to continue higher education and youth staying out of the labour force are attributed as the “probable” reasons for the decrease in the youth unemployment rate.

The Labour Force Survey Report (LFS) 2019, the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) released yesterday recorded the youth unemployment rate at 11.9 percent in 2019. This is a drop by 3.8 percent from 15.7 recorded in 2018. The rate was 12.3 percent in 2017.

The LFS defines youth unemployment rate as the percentage of unemployed persons in the age group of 15-24 years to the labour force (also known as economically active population) in the same age group according to the report.

The report stated that in terms of absolute numbers, there was 3,626 youth who are without work, actively seeking and are available for work during the reference period, which is during the survey conducted in November and December 2019.

“The youth unemployment rate in urban areas is double than that of rural, which is 19.4 percent compared to 7.8 percent,” the report stated. “Paro with 21.9 percent has the highest youth unemployment rate, followed by Trongsa and Thimphu.”

Going by the report, female youth unemployment is higher than that of male with 13.8 percent against 9.7 percent.

NSB’s deputy chief statistical officer, Phuentsho Yuden said that although there was no further research carried to determine the reasons for the decrease in the youth unemployment, there are three probable reasons based on the data collected for the survey.

The deputy chief explained that one of the reasons was the decrease in the youth population as per the population projection of PHCB 2017. This led to a decline in youth labour force entering into the labour market.

“It was also found that majority of the students had continued to study in class XI, which means entry into higher secondary schools increased in 2019,” Phuentsho Yuden said. “This figure is also supported by an increase in the number of enrolment of students in class XI.”

The enrolment figure has increased to 11,750 class XI students in 2019 from 8,882 in 2018 (Annual Education Statistics, 2019).

She added that the data also shows that the students or trainees who were currently in school or institutes increased to 92.1 percent in 2019 from 87.9 percent in 2018.

“This means that the percentage of students and trainees who prefer to stay out of the labour force has increased in 2019 compared with 2018.”

Phuentsho Yuden said that the data also estimated a substantial decline in the number of unemployed youth who were seeking jobs. By qualification, those unemployed youths who completed class X declined to 11.5 percent in 2019 from 24.4 percent in 2018.

She added that the highest rate in Paro was because as per the data, the youth labour force in Paro is minimal.

According to the report, the overall unemployment rate has also decreased to 2.7 percent in 2019 compared with 3.4 percent in 2018. The lowest unemployment rate was in the year 2016 (2.1%).

In absolute number, there were a total of 8,698 persons seeking jobs during the reference period.

As per the International Labour Organization to be termed as unemployed, the person has to be aged 15 years and above who are without a job, who were seeking work in the last four weeks prior to the interview, and were available for work in the next two weeks.

A total of 9,012 sample households were selected from 20 dzongkhags, out of which about 3,420 households were in urban areas, and 5,592 households in rural areas. A total of 66 enumerators and 15 supervisors were engaged in the survey data collection.

Sarpang has the highest unemployment rate at 5.2 percent followed by Thimphu (5.0 percent).

“Majority of the respondents reasoned recently completed studies as a reason for being unemployed or lack of qualification and experience,” the report stated.

Over one-fifth (22.4%) of all unemployed (8,698) persons have been looking for work for two years and more.

Phuentsho Yuden added that when the youth unemployment decreases, it also has an impact on the overall unemployment rate, which is why the unemployment rate has reduced in 2019.

Meanwhile, clarifying rumours, Phuentsho Yuden said that the drop in unemployment rate was in no way related to Covid-19 pandemic, as the survey was conducted in November and completed on December 24 2019.