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Asad Umar refutes opposition’s claims on unemployment

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar took to Twitter to correct the false claims by the opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif regarding PTI's economic performance. He posted data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to show an increase in employment in PTI's regime.

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Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar took to Twitter to correct Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif on latter’s earlier comments saying that unemployment had increased during the first year of PTI’s government from 2018-19.

The Minister wrote, “Shehbaz Sharif had tweeted that PTI govt increased the number of unemployed by 1 million in 2019. Data from Labour force survey 2018-19 released by PBS shows in 2018-19 (1st year of PTI govt) economy added more than 23 lakh jobs vs the last year of the PML-N government.”

In the Tweet above, it can be seen that Shahbaz Sharif had said in May 2020 that the Economic Policies of the ‘incompetent PTI’ government led to pushing 3 million people into poverty, and 1 million were rendered unemployed in 2019.

Similarly, former finance minister Mifrah Ismael had Tweeted in June 2019 that in the first 10 months of the PTI government’s regime, an additional 1.2 million people were pushed down the poverty line, and 1 million have lost jobs.

However, Asad Umar posted a screenshot from the latest Labor Force Survey published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, which said that employment has increased from 2017-18 to 2018-19.  The data shows that 2.33 million more people have gained employment in 2018-19, opposing the claims made by the opposition party.

According to the data, 64.04 million people were employed in 2018-19 compared to 61.7l1 in 2017-18. If we divide this by gender, female employment between the same years increased by 1.17 million, while male employment increased by 1.16 million.

However, if the same data showed by Asad Umar is seen through rural and urban areas, the female employment in the urban areas fell, as in 2018-19, 2.36 million women were employed compared to 2.52 million. Male employment in the Urban areas however saw an uptick, increasing from 18.44 million in 2017-18 to 18.74 million in 2018-19.

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Employment in Rural areas of Pakistan increased for both genders according to the survey.

Other Main findings

The working-age population of Pakistan according to the Pakistan Labor Force Survey (LFS) 2018-19 stood at 153.5 million, meaning the number of people aged 15-64,or potential workers within an economy.

94.1 million, or 61.3 per cent of this population is working in rural areas, while the rest 38.7 per cent, or 59.3 million people are working in urban areas.

The labor force of Pakistan stood at 68.73 million for 2018-19, meaning 68.73 million people are willing and able to work in the country, and out of this 64.01 million were employed, and 4.71 million were unemployed.

The Refined Labor Force Participation rates stood at 44.8 per cent, meaning 44.8 per cent of the potential workers in the economy are able and willing to work. If we divide it by gender, the refined labor force participation rate stands at 67.8 per cent for males, and 21.5 per cent for females.

Out of the people employed 72.4 per cent worked in informal sectors, while 27.6 per cent worked in the formal sector of the economy.

Informal sector accounts for more than seven out of ten (72.4%) of non-agricultural employment, more in rural (76.7%) than in urban areas (68.1%). On the other hand, formal sector activities are concentrated more in urban areas (31.9%) than in rural areas (23.3%), LFS noted.

Share of females in comparison with the respective share of males is more evident in urban formal (39.5%) and rural informal (78.6%) while, the share of males are more prominent in rural formal (23.6%) and urban informal (69.0%).

If we divide it by sectors, 39.2 per cent of employed people worked in agriculture, still making up for the highest employing sector of the country, followed closely by services sector, which employed 37.8 per cent of the active population. Only 23 per cent of active population of Pakistan worked in the Industrial sector.

If we see the employment status of people in Pakistan, 1.5 per cent of the active population in 2018-19 were employers, 35.8 per cent were own-account workers, 22.9 per cent were Contributing family workers, and the highest percentage making up for 39.8 per cent were employees.

If we see the mean working hours by gender as shown by the LFS 2018-19, Both genders combined put an average of 46.6 hours per week into work. Separately, however, males worked 50.9 hours a week compared to females putting in an average of 32.2 hours a week.

Dr. Umair Javed, Assistant Professor of Politics and Sociology at LUMS, noted the gender disparity between working women and men in Pakistan. He said, “9.8% – that’s the (paid) work participation rate for women in the urban labor force in Pakistan. 65.1% for men. Living in two different countries.”

He added, “This disparity exists despite convergence in education levels: higher education attainment among urban residents across men and women is almost similar. In urban areas (aged 10 and above), 11% of all men have an undergrad degree vs 9.5% of all women.”

If seen by gender, the unemployment rate for both genders stood at 6.9 per cent, with 10 per cent for females and 5.9 per cent for males in Pakistan.

If seen by area, unemployment in urban areas stood at 7.9 per cent, while in the rural areas the unemployment rate according to LFS 2018-19 stood at 6.4 per cent.

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The unemployment rate of Pakistan according to the LFS 2018-19 stood at 9.6 per cent. If we categorized it into provinces, the highest unemployment was found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a rate of 10.3 per cent, followed by Punjab at 7.4 per cent, Balochistan at 4.6 per cent, and Sindh with the lowest unemployment rate at 4.0 per cent.

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