Saturday October 23, 2021

Labour survey

September 20, 2021

Providing gainful employment is one of the primary responsibilities of any modern state. When the unemployment rate increases by just one percent, it means an increase of millions of jobless people in the country. The PTI came to power in 2018 after making promises to increase livelihood opportunities among the people. These promises had a convincing effect and citizens of Pakistan anticipated – if not an eradication – then at least some reduction in unemployment. So, it is disappointing to know that the country’s unemployment rate jumped from 5.8 percent in 2018 to 6.9 percent in 2019. That was the first year of the PTI government in power.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) is an official statement of the country’s labour situation. The survey reveals that in absolute terms the number of jobless people jumped by nearly a million people to over 4.7 million in 2019 from 3.7 million 2018. If a country experiences such a high surge in the number of people looking for jobs in just one year, it is not hard to calculate what the situation will be in five years. The workforce expanded by over three million in the said period. The expansion in the workforce is directly related to increasing population in the country. If the trend continues, we may be adding around five million pairs of hands to the workforce annually. That means the government must plan to provide that many jobs if it intends to contain the rising tide of unemployment. Job markets in Pakistan remain volatile in the absence of a sound industrial base that is competitive at the international level. The government needs to create new jobs by facilitating businesses and industries. Instead, it has been encouraging real-estate business that is mostly based on speculations. The business and industrial sectors in the country have been laying off their employees in droves.

As macroeconomic imbalances continue to blight the country’s economy, and the rupee keeps falling, the government appears to be ill-prepared to handle any further deterioration. The increase in unemployment has been observed in both men and women with male unemployment rising from 5.1 percent to 5.9 percent whereas female unemployment rate surging from 8.3 percent to10 percent. That shows a disproportionate increase in unemployment among women. With increasing discrimination, exclusion, and violence against women in society, livelihood opportunities for women are shrinking at a faster pace. Similarly, rural areas have witnessed more reduction in employment opportunities compared to urban areas. For women in rural areas the situation is even worse as female joblessness increased by nearly three percent in rural areas. All this calls for immediate steps to create more jobs and that the government can do by realising the gravity of the situation in the labour market. The government must take the survey seriously and develop a comprehensive job-creation strategy, rather than rely on spin doctors known for false claims and tall promises.