Mea­sur­ing em­ploy­ment and un­em­ploy­ment in the Ja­maica Labour Force Sur­vey

Jamaica Gleaner - - CELEBRATING 70 YEARS OF PROVIDING STATISTICS -

WHAT IS THE LABOUR FORCE SUR­VEY?

The Labour Force Sur­vey (LFS) is a house­hold-based sur­vey con­ducted by the Sta­tis­ti­cal In­sti­tute of Ja­maica (STATIN) on a quar­terly ba­sis in Jan­uary, April, July and Oc­to­ber each year since 1968. The sur­vey is de­signed to mon­i­tor changes in the em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion in Ja­maica, pri­mar­ily on the ba­sis of data ob­tained from the sur­vey. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of dwellings is vis­ited each quar­ter by trained in­ter­view­ers us­ing struc­tured ques­tion­naires to con­duct face-to-face in­ter­views.

The sur­vey tar­gets the non-in­sti­tu­tional pop­u­la­tion 14 years and over. Ex­cluded from the sur­vey are per­sons liv­ing in in­sti­tu­tions such as hos­tels, army bar­racks, places of safety and other in­sti­tu­tions.

WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE STAN­DARDS AND GUIDE­LINES USED IN THE LFS?

All the stan­dards, con­cepts, def­i­ni­tions and guide­lines used in the Labour Force Sur­vey con­form to the rec­om­men­da­tions of the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ILO). This al­lows for in­ter­na­tional com­pa­ra­bil­ity of the labour mar­ket in­di­ca­tors pro­duced by STATIN.

HOW IS THE IN­FOR­MA­TION FROM THE LFS USED?

In­for­ma­tion from the Labour Force Sur­vey is used by gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, trade unions, labour mar­ket an­a­lysts, economists, con­sul­tants and plan­ners for the eval­u­a­tion and plan­ning of em­ploy­ment pro­grammes.

The sur­vey is used to pro­duce the well-known un­em­ploy­ment rate as well as other stan­dard labour mar­ket in­di­ca­tors such as the em­ploy­ment rate and the labour force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate. It also pro­vides em­ploy­ment es­ti­mates by in­dus­try group, oc­cu­pa­tion, hours worked, and much more.

The sur­vey de­fines the work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion as per­sons 14 years and older.

The min­i­mum age limit used to mea­sure the eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive pop­u­la­tion (i.e., the labour, force) varies among coun­tries. In some coun­tries, the min­i­mum age limit starts as low as age six (Egypt), and for oth­ers, as high as age 16 (United States). The ma­jor­ity of coun­tries, how­ever, use age 14 or 15 years as the min­i­mum age limit (ILO, 1986).

Since the in­cep­tion of the Labour Force Sur­vey in Ja­maica, the age of 14 years has been used as the min­i­mum age limit to mea­sure the eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive pop­u­la­tion in Ja­maica. This en­sures that per­sons as young as 14 years who are en­gaged in any eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity such as work­ing on fam­ily farms, and in fam­ily or small-scale en­ter­prises with or without pay may be in­cluded in the sur­vey.

HOW IS THE LABOUR FORCE DE­FINED?

In the labour-force frame­work, the pop­u­la­tion is di­vided into two ma­jor groups: the eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive and the eco­nom­i­cally in­ac­tive. A per­son is clas­si­fied into one of three cat­e­gories on the ba­sis of their ac­tiv­i­ties: the em­ployed, the un­em­ployed, and the eco­nom­i­cally in­ac­tive (i.e., out­side the labour force). The eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive pop­u­la­tion or the labour force is fur­ther di­vided into the em­ployed and the un­em­ployed. The em­ployed and the un­em­ployed per­sons aged 14 years and over to­gether con­sti­tute the coun­try’s labour force and in­cludes the fol­low­ing: 1. All per­sons who were em­ployed in any form of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity for one hour or more dur­ing the sur­vey week. 2. All per­sons who had jobs but were ab­sent from work dur­ing the ref­er­ence pe­riod; 3. All per­sons who, al­though they had no job, or worked less than one hour dur­ing the sur­vey week, were look­ing for work; 4. All per­sons who al­though not look­ing for work, wanted work and were in a po­si­tion to ac­cept work dur­ing the sur­vey week.

WHAT IS THE LABOUR FORCE PAR­TIC­I­PA­TION RATE?

The labour-force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate is a mea­sure of the pro­por­tion of the work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion that ac­tively en­gages in the labour mar­ket, ei­ther by work­ing or look­ing for work. It pro­vides an in­di­ca­tion of the size of the sup­ply of labour avail­able to en­gage in the pro­duc­tion of goods and ser­vices, rel­a­tive to the work­ing age pop­u­la­tion.

The labour force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate is de­fined as the ra­tio of the to­tal labour force to the work­ing age pop­u­la­tion and is ex­pressed as a per­cent­age. The for­mula used in its com­pu­ta­tion is shown above.

WHO ARE THE EM­PLOYED?

In­di­vid­u­als are de­fined as be­ing em­ployed if they are 14 years and over and en­gaged in some eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity for at least one hour in the week be­fore the start of the sur­vey (ref­er­ence pe­riod). The em­ployed are clas­si­fied in the fol­low­ing cat­e­gories: 1. Paid em­ploy­ment – Com­pris­ing per­sons who, dur­ing the ref­er­ence pe­riod, per­formed some form of work for wage or salary in cash or kind. 2. Paid self-em­ploy­ment – Per­sons with an en­ter­prise, which may be a busi­ness en­ter­prise, a farm or a ser­vice un­der­tak­ing who, dur­ing the ref­er­ence pe­riod, per­formed some work for profit or fam­ily gain, in cash or in kind. 3. Un­paid work­ers – Per­sons who, dur­ing the ref­er­ence pe­riod, worked without pay in an eco­nomic en­ter­prise op­er­ated by a re­lated per­son re­gard­less of the num­ber of hours worked

WHY USE THE ONE-HOUR CRITERION TO DE­FINE EM­PLOY­MENT?

The one-hour criterion is an in­ter­na­tion­ally agreed stan­dard used in the mea­sure­ment of em­ploy­ment. It al­lows for the in­clu­sion of per­sons who were em­ployed in all types of em­ploy­ment. This in­cludes short-term work, Se­lected In­di­ca­tors ca­sual labour, standby work and other types of ir­reg­u­lar em­ploy­ment. The use of the one-hour criterion is im­por­tant for a com­plete cov­er­age of even the smallest in­put of labour.

WHO ARE THE UN­EM­PLOYED?

In­di­vid­u­als are de­fined as un­em­ployed if they are 14 years and over and dur­ing the ref­er­ence pe­riod sat­isfy the fol­low­ing three con­di­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously: 1. ‘Without work’, i.e., were not in paid em­ploy­ment or self-em­ploy­ment. 2. ‘Cur­rently avail­able for work’, i.e., were avail­able for paid em­ploy­ment or self-em­ploy­ment dur­ing the ref­er­ence pe­riod; and 3. ‘Seek­ing work’, i.e., had taken spe­cific steps in a spec­i­fied re­cent pe­riod to seek paid em­ploy­ment or self-em­ploy­ment. Un­em­ployed is mea­sured in two ways, us­ing the ‘strict’ and the ‘re­laxed’ def­i­ni­tion.

Un­em­ploy­ment Rate (Both sexes) Male Fe­male Youth (14-24 years) Un­em­ploy­ment Rate (Both sexes) Male Fe­male Labour Force Par­tic­i­pa­tion Rate (Both Sexes) Male Fe­male Pop­u­la­tion (14 years and over) ‘out­side the labour force’ Male Fe­male

For the ‘strict’ def­i­ni­tion, all three con­di­tions of ‘without work’, ‘avail­able for work’ and ‘seek­ing work’ must be met si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­fore a per­son can be con­sid­ered to be un­em­ployed. For the ‘re­laxed’ def­i­ni­tion, how­ever, a per­son is de­fined as un­em­ployed if he/she is ‘without work’ is ‘cur­rently avail­able for work’, but have not taken any step to seek work.

In Ja­maica, the ‘re­laxed’ def­i­ni­tion of un­em­ploy­ment is used given that con­ven­tional means of seek­ing work is of mi­nor rel­e­vance to the Jamaican labour mar­ket. The Jamaican labour mar­ket is less or­gan­ised and a large per­cent­age of the labour force is self-em­ployed.

WHAT IS THE UN­EM­PLOY­MENT RATE AND HOW IS IT CAL­CU­LATED?

The un­em­ploy­ment rate is widely re­garded as one of the key labour mar­ket in­di­ca­tors and a good mea­sure of cur­rent eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. It is de­fined as the per­cent­age of the un­em­ployed to the to­tal labour force (sum of the em­ployed and un­em­ployed) and is cal­cu­lated as shown in the for­mula above.

WHO ARE CLAS­SI­FIED AS ‘OUT­SIDE THE LABOUR FORCE’ OR THE ECO­NOM­I­CALLY IN­AC­TIVE?

The labour force is de­fined as the sum of the em­ployed and the un­em­ployed. There­fore, all

per­sons 14 years and older who were not clas­si­fied as em­ployed or un­em­ployed are con­sid­ered to be ‘out­side the labour force’ or eco­nom­i­cally in­ac­tive. There is a va­ri­ety of rea­sons why some in­di­vid­u­als do not par­tic­i­pate in the labour force, such as they may be en­gaged in car­ing for fam­ily mem­bers, they may be re­tired, they may be sick or dis­abled or at­tend­ing school. Ad­di­tion­ally, some may sim­ply be un­in­ter­ested in work­ing.

WHY DO WE SET A MIN­I­MUM AGE LIMIT OF 14 YEARS FOR THE WORK­ING-AGE POP­U­LA­TION?

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