Unemployment rate drops to 3.5% | 10 January 2019
The report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was compiled through a labour force survey conducted from July to September 2018 which covered 1,200 households in its scope. It was published on December 31, 2018.
It is to be recalled that the unemployment rates for the first and second quarters of 2018 stood at 4.2% and 5% respectively.
In a press conference yesterday, NBS principal statistician Maria Payet noted that the recent report is a special edition and represents a break in series from the previously published editions.
This is because the NBS adopted revised definitions for some labour market indicators which fall in line with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) own revisited definitions.
NBS has been collecting data from the quarterly labour force survey since 2014 and publishes four quarterly reports for each year.
“We revised the questionnaire for the third quarter of 2018 to allow us to ask more questions and for us to be able to use more modern and standard definitions set by ILO. As a result, certain changes are evident,” Ms Payet stated.
“For instance, when we previously talked about ‘being employed’ this took into account different types of jobs. But now we have changed the definition to ‘being employed’ as meaning those in paid employment only.”
The change in the definition of employment has been characterised as one of the factors that have impacted on the decreased unemployment rate for the third quarter of 2018.
Nonetheless the 3.5% unemployment rate does not completely reflect the country’s labour situation and does not take into account those outside of the labour force such as those who did not want to work at the moment the survey was conducted (these include those studying, housewives, retirees etc).
Hence other indicators are used to better understand the country’s labour market.
These indicators include the labour force participation rate (69.5% for Q3 2018), employment-to-population ratio (67.1% for Q3 2018) and long-term unemployment rate (16.9% for Q3 2018), among others.
Meanwhile, the employment department considers the drop in the unemployment rate as an encouraging sign for the national labour force.
Susan Morel, the technical advisor in the employment department, stated the decline in unemployment rate can partly be attributed to the department’s efforts in reducing unemployment in the country through its various policies and programmes.
To note, a total of 1,934 persons benefited from the department’s Unemployed Relief Scheme (URS) in 2018 when the scheme was revived.
“Our employment rate remains steadily under 5%. Nevertheless, we are still encountering certain challenges especially in relations to the youths, a demographic where the unemployment rate is significantly higher,” Ms Morel said.
Youth unemployment for the third quarter of 2018 is 16.4% and the rate for youths that are not in employment, education or training is 22.5%.
The employment department has advised youths who are first-time job applicants to seek help through private job seeking firms or at the employment department in order to get a better understanding of the labour market and the opportunities available to them.
The NBS expects to publish the labour force report for the fourth quarter of 2018 in March 2019.