Un­em­ploy­ment rate falls

Enterprise - - National news -

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.

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