Unemployment up by 4.6% in Q2 in Sri Lanka

Unemployment up by 4.6% in Q2 in Sri Lanka

Colombo, Oct 10 (Daily FT) – Unemployment, in Sri Lanka, grew marginally by 4.6% to an estimated 381,834 people in the second quarter of 2018 from a year ago, while there was higher male participation in the labour force, the Census and Statistics Department revealed yesterday.

The overall unemployment rate was at its highest among females at 7.4%, while it was 3.1% for males, the Census and Statistics Department said in its quarterly Labour Force Statistics Bulletin. The unemployment recorded in the second quarter of last year as well as during the first quarter of this year was 4.5%. According to the survey, unemployment has remained below 5% since the third quarter of 2015.

The survey results further revealed that unemployment among females was higher than males, across all age groups in the second quarter of 2018.

Youth and female unemployment contribute more to the overall unemployment of the country, the report said.

The youth unemployment rate within the age group of 15-24 years in second quarter was 22.5%, which is the highest reported unemployment rate among all age groups, with 32.3% females and 17.6% males.

Female labour force participation fell to 32.5% in the second quarter of 2018 from 35.9% a year earlier, with declines being seen across most age groups.

The highest unemployment rate is reported from the G.C.E (A/L) and Above group which is about 8.9% or 170,647 individuals, where 5% is male and 12.7% is female.

“Female unemployment rates are higher than those of males in all levels of education. This further shows that the problem of unemployment is more acute in the case of educated females than educated males, which was observed consistently over the results of previous survey rounds as well,” the report said.

According to the survey, the estimated economically active portion of the population amounted to about 8.3 million in the second quarter, with 65.9% comprised of males and 34.1% females. The economically inactive population numbers about 8 million, of which 26.1% are males and 73.9% are females.

The highest employment share is in the service sector where both male and female participation is high, while the lowest participation was seen in the agriculture sector. Employment in agriculture fell to a historic low of 24.2% in the June 2018 quarter amid a recovery from a two-year drought, with 1.93 million people working in the sector, down from 2.11 million or 26% of total labour a year earlier. However, agriculture sector Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 4.5% in the second quarter as supply chains returned to normal but contributed 8.4% to GDP.

Employment in industrial activities fell 27.5% to 2.19 million of the labour force, from 2.3 million or 28.3% of labour from 2017. The economic growth in the industrial sector was 2.3%, contributing 25.6% to GDP in the second quarter.

According to the report, the services sector was the only sector that grew rapidly in the second quarter at 4.8%, covering 57.1% of the GDP, which saw an increase in employment. The survey showed that 48.3% of labour was employed in the services sector in the second quarter, up 45.7% to 3.72 million a year earlier.

It was also pointed out that the majority of the workforce was made up of private sector employees followed by own-account workers.

Consideration of the distribution of labour force participation by age group and gender depicts high male participation compared to female participation across all age groups. The highest participation rate for males was reported from the 30-39 years age group (96.5%), while for females it was reported from the 45-49 age group (49.9%).

While the working age population increased by half a million from a year earlier, the number of people in the labour force fell by 167,334. Labour force participation fell to 53.9% during the second quarter, down from 54.7% a year earlier.