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First continuous labour force survey pegs unemployment rate at 12 percent; employment 49.2 percent

Guyana’s unemployment rate is pegged  at 12 percent, according to the first in a series of periodic Continuous Labour Force Surveys funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

In the area of youth unemployment, that figure is 21.6 percent, of which 28 percent are young women.

The survey findings for July to September, 2017, unemployed women account for 15.3 percent and men 9.9 percent- all 15 years and older. The total population 15 years and older is 550,831 persons.

With regards to employment,  the employment rate is 49.2 percent, with 62.1 percent being men and 36.9 percent women.  Employed workers earn an average salary of GY$82,636 and self-employed workers GY$67,064.

Figures also show that 28.4 percent of the labour force is underutilized and 48.3 percent and 52.6 percent of the employed labour force hold informal jobs.

In real numbers, the total employed persons 166,873 males and 104,195 males. Workers in towns numbered 188,774 persons and in rural areas 82,294.

The first survey was conducted during the last quarter of 2017 with IDB funding close to US$1 million.

Deputy Chief Statistician, Ian Manifold said the Guyana government would be financing the surveys to be conducted every quarter instead of having to wait every 10 years or an unspecified period in between surveys to know the performance of the labour market.

After  Guyana’s Bureau of Statistics becomes increasingly familiar with the methodology, he said the survey findings would be released two weeks after the data is collected every quarter.

He said with this quarterly survey, Guyana would be following in the footsteps of The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica  and Trinidad and Tobago. The Bureau of Statistics official said the surveys would provide very important data to the private sector about the expansion and contraction of the labour market.

“As a developing country, Guyana is now developing these labour market tools to boost the growth of a thriving financial sector whose decisions would be made on sound market indicators which emanate from the LFS (Labour Force Survey) and other sources,” he said.

With the coming of oil production from 2020, the Deputy Chief Statistician noted that there would be a greater need for market indicators such as the LFS. “It is very strategic to make available to policy makers in private sector the indicators of the LFS so that they would be better able to plan their investments as it relates to the contraction or the expansion of their businesses,” he said.

Head of the IDB’s Guyana Office, Sophie Makonnen said a third survey is being conducted from January to March, 2018. “As you see, there will be fresh and up to date information to support decisions and this is, I think, groundbreaking,” she remarked. Makonnen said Guyana now has one of the most modern Information and Communications Technology real-time labour data gathering systems not only in the Caribbean but in the world.

She explained that having a continuous LFS is important to productivity and preventing Guyana from falling into a skills gap. “In other words, such an assessment should give an idea of where Guyana’s workforce stands and enable policymakers to plan accordingly,” she said.

Finance Secretary, Dr. Hector Butts said this, the first survey of its kind in  Guyana, would aid in forming the basis for credible decision-making. “Without data, decision-making is subjective, is opinionated and is just guesstimate at times. For decisions to be made on a credible basis, it has to be on the basis of the credibility or the professionalism and integrity that are placed in the data collection and analysis,” he said.