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Unemployment rate of Phuentsholing is 4.8 percent, a RIGSS report

Phurpa Wangmo

Owing to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak to labour markets, a study by Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies (RIGSS) projects Phuentsholing’s unemployment rate at 4.8 percent.

This figure was collected in the working-age population (15 years and above) in the report Comprehensive Household Census of Phuentsholing Thromde and Peri-urban Areas (2021) – the tally accounts for 3.3 percent for males and 7.4 percent for females. The working-age population comprises of two groups, the economically active and the economically inactive.

Additionally, the report clarifies that there was a very minimal difference between the proportion of the working-age population of males and females with males constituting 50.9 percent and females constituting 49.1 percent. 34 percent of the working-age population of Phuentsholing was between 25-years-old and 34-years-old.

According to the report, the top three reasons accounting for unemployment were, individuals were laid off from previous jobs, recently completed studies and the belief that there is no work available in the market.

In the working-age population, there are 17,976 individuals in Phuentsholing. The report highlights that among the working-age population, 11,337 were economically active, out of which 10,798 were employed and 539 were unemployed as per the standard definition of unemployment. A total of 1,499 individuals reported current occupation as ‘unemployed’.

Among 10,798 employed individuals, 5,340 are private employees, 1,443 are civil servants, and the rest are in various categories. A total of 590 individuals in the age group between 20-years-old to 39-years-old were laid off during the pandemic outbreak.

In the working-age population by occupation, 5,340 individuals are employed in the private companies followed by 2,678 homemakers, and 99 percent homemakers were females. There were 1,832 students or trainees above 15-years-old and 752 dependents. Further, there were 1,443 civil servants and 1,120 corporate employees in Phuentsholing. The rest were distributed among other occupational groups.

According to the report, 11,337 were economically active and 6,639 were economically inactive, this is in the working-age population bracket. In the economically active bracket, male constitutes 64.7 percent while female constitutes 72.7 percent in the economically inactive bracket. The economically active male population was higher in the industry-centric areas like Pasakha, Pasakha Industrial Estate, Khareyphu and Amochhu Chamkuna. On the other hand, the percentage of economically active females were higher in the Core, Dhamdara and Kabreytar. While the economically active population was the highest between 25-years-old and 34-years-old, most of the individuals aged between 15-years-old and 24-years-old were economically inactive.

In terms of labour force participation rate (LFPR), a proportion of the working-age population actively engaged in the labour market, working or actively seeking employment. LFPR is 80.2 percent for males, significantly higher than for females which stands at 45.3 percent tallying the LFPR to 63.1 percent.

According to the report, the LFPR rate is the highest for Pasakha Industrial Estate and the lowest for Toorsatar. The LFPR is the highest in Pasakha Industrial Estate for both males and females at 94 percent and 51.4 percent, respectively. This can be attributed to the proximity of these areas to a large number of industries. Furthermore, LFPR for Phuentsholing increases sharply through the age group of 25-years-old to 29-years-old and reaches the highest rate of 75.3 percent at the age group between 35-years-old and 39-years-old, after which it gradually declines to reach the lowest rate of 10.9 percent at age group of 80-years-old to 84-years-old. While the LFPR is the highest for females aged between 25-years-old to 29-years-old, LFPR for their male counterparts peaks at a later age group of 30-years-old to 34-years-old. The difference between the labour force participation rate between the male and female population is the highest at age group 50-years-old and 54-years-old.

The economic inactivity rate for Phuentsholing is 36.9 percent. According to the report, economic inactivity rate is the ratio of the economically inactive population to the total working-age population – this is 54.7 percent for females which is relatively higher than for males which stands at 19.8 percent. The report further elucidates that this rate is highest for individuals aged between 15-years-old to 19-years-old and for individuals aged 80-years-old and above. This, the report attributes the reasons to the fact that most of the individuals belonging to the former age group were either school or university students, and those belonging to the latter were too old to engage in economic activities.

For employment criteria, the report adopted the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition of employment, which comprises all working-age people who belong to the following categories including paid employment whether at work or with a job but not at work, or self-employment (whether at work or with an enterprise but not at work). Out of the 11,337 economically active individuals in Phuentsholing, 10,798 individuals were employed, of which, 65.7 percent were males, and 34.3 percent were females.

In employment by occupation, the study reports that nearly half that is 49.4 percent of the total employed population of Phuentsholing were private employees -51.5 percent are males and 45.4 percent are females. There were 1,443 civil servants and 113 farmers. This is excluding the private employees, the majority of females were business individuals, while most of the civil servants were males.

In the category employment by education level, 16.7 percent never attended schools/ institutes, the proportion of which is almost equally distributed between the two sexes of the total 10,978 employed individuals in Phuentsholing. More than half of the total employed population had a qualification of higher secondary or lower. Only 0.1 percent of the total working population of Phuentsholing had a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Though the proportion of the male and female population is similar at the various education levels, the rate is slightly higher for males with primary level education and higher for females with higher secondary level education, states the report.

The total working-age population of Phuentsholing was 17976, of which 10798 were employed, giving an employment-to-population ratio of 60.1 percent, the employment-to-population ratio represents the proportion of the census area’s working-age population that is currently employed. The percentage of the employed male population was 77.5 percent which was comparatively higher than the females that stands at 42 percent. The portion of the employed working-age population was the highest in Pasakha Industrial Estate is 79.4 percent and lowest in Toorsatar which is 47.1 percent. Additionally, the employment-to-population ratio of the males are higher than that of females in Phuentsholing.

Though 1,499 persons in the working-age group reported their occupation as “unemployed”, of the 11,337 economically active population of Phuentsholing, only 539 individuals qualify to be called unemployed (as per the standard definition of unemployment) taking the unemployment rate to 4.8 percent, projects the report.

The unemployment rate for males is comparatively lower than that for females at 3.3 percent and 7.4 percent respectively, states the report. The unemployment rate is the highest for individuals aged between 20-years-old to 29-years-old and zero for people aged 70-years-old and above.

Meanwhile, the study reports reasons for unemployment and 108 of the 539 unemployed individuals were laid off from previous jobs and 100 were recent graduates. Around 84 of them said it was for reasons not listed in the questionnaire, such as resignation from the previous job, not seeking employment due to the pandemic, and family or personal reasons. However, 65 of them believed no work is available in the market, while five individuals also highlighted their disinterest to work as the reason.

The youth unemployment rate is reported at 15.6 percent in Phuentsholing. The female youth unemployment rate stands at 20.5 percent, it is almost twice that of the males that stands at 10.9 percent.

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