Unemployment on utmost in Pakistan

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Fatima Imam Baksh
According to the Labor Force Survey (LFS), the unemployment rate in the country had risen from 5.8% in 2017-18 to 6.9% in 2018-19. The total number of workers in the country increased from 65.5 million to 68.73 million in the 2019 financial year from 3.79 million in the previous year.A high unemployment rate was noted for both males and females, as the male unemployment rate increased from 5.1% to 5.9% and the female unemployment rate jumped from 8.3% to 10%.But the rise in unemployment was most pronounced in rural areas, where it rose from 5% to 6.4%. The sharp rise in rural unemployment was due to high female unemployment, which rose to 8.5 % from 5.9 % during the period under review. The unemployment rate for rural men in the two years under review was 5.5 % and 4.7%, respectively.The employment participation rate was 44.8%, with 68.73 million men and women out of a total workforce of 153.5 million – 77.4 million men and 76.1 million women – of the working-age population. The majority of the working-age population, 94.1 million, live in rural areas and 59.3 million in urban areas. Despite having a share of less than one-fifth in the economy, agriculture continues to be the largest employer, absorbing 39.2% of the total labour force compared to 38.5 % in the previous year.The results of the survey show that the share of non-agricultural employment in the informal sector was 72.4% which was higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas. Compared to men, the share of women was higher in urban informal and rural informal areas, while the share of men in rural formal and urban informal sectors was more prominent.The survey indicates changes in employment shares with observed increases in forestry, agriculture, construction, and social services. 39.8% of workers were classified as employees, 35.8 % as own-account workers, 22.9 % as domestic workers and 1.5% as employers. More than half were female workers or 56.9% were working domestic workers, and more than eight in ten were male account holders and employees. Under the circumstances, the Covid-19 virus restrictions on movement had left tens of thousands of people out of work, increased the numbers of unemployed. In fact, graduate unemployment rates were about three times higher than those in the unemployed workforce. According to the Labor Force Survey 2017-18, approximately 8.78 million young people, aged 20 and over, have graduated. Of these, 5.97 million were “financially active” while 0.97 million were unemployed. According to these figures, the unemployment rate for graduates was much higher than the national average of 5.8 percent. However, according to the government’s annual plan for 2020-21, covid-19, economic limitations raised the overall unemployment rate to 9.56 %. Meanwhile, data from the Economic Survey indicates that approximately 21.71 million people have either become unemployed or are unable to work due to the Covid-19 related lockdown.