Unemployment rate falls
Pakistan’s unemployment rate has slightly gone down while the literacy rate has improved during the second year of the PML-N government, claimed a latest official report.
This creates doubts about the authenticity of critical socioeconomic indicators as other official reports show contradictory trends.
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics released the Labour Force Survey for fiscal year 2014-15, claiming that unemployment rate stood at 5.9%, down from 6% in the previous year. It also showed that the national literacy rate improved to 60.7% in the last fiscal year against 60% in 2013-14.
Baluchistan showed maximum improvement in literacy ratio, followed by Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while the ratio remained almost unchanged in Punjab.
However, the report has raised concerns over credibility and consistency of the official data. In June last year, the National Economic Council, headed by the prime minister, approved the macroeconomic framework that showed that the unemployment rate was 8.3% in 2014-15 – the highest level in the last 13 years.
The last time the unemployment rate was this much high was in fiscal year 2002, when it stood at 8.3%.
Similarly, the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM), conducted by the PBS, had showed that in 2013-14 the literacy rate was 58%, down by 2% from the previous year. It had released the survey in May last year. Now in the Labour Force Survey it claimed that the literacy rate in 2013-14 was 60%.
The report also indicates that the official data was compiled by relying on faulty definitions.
To start with, the definition of employee says, “anyone over the age of 10, who worked at least one hour during the reference period and was either paid-employed or selfemployed.”
The government also treats a person as employed who is jobless but helping his family member in routine work.
According to the survey, own account worker ratio slightly
improved to 36.1% in 2014-15 from 35.4%. The contributing family worker ratio stood at 23.8%, down from 24.4%. If own account workers and contributing family workers are excluded from the employed people, the unemployment rate will rise sharply.
Another reason why the unemployment rate appears misleading is the fact that annual economic growth in 2014-15 was just 4.2%, which was far below the required pace needed to absorb the new entrants in the job market.
According to the survey findings, unemployment in the age groups of 20-24 years, 25-29 years, 30-34 years and 3539 years significantly increased in 2014-15 compared to the previous year. The 20-24 years age group saw a rapid increase in unemployment compared to the other age groups.