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Unemployment youth rate a concern

Monika Singh
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

GENDER disparity, high rate of youth unemployment and dominance of informal labour market are some of the issues of concern facing the Pacific.

This was highlighted by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) economic affairs officer Sanjesh Naidu at a session on labour market and skills upgrading during the 2017 Pacific Update Conference at the University of the South Pacific yesterday.

Mr Naidu said one of the bigger problems for Fiji and the Pacific was the growing youth population that was unemployed.

He said the important questions to be asked in such situations were whether the youth population was contributing to the skilled labour force and whether enough jobs were being created for youths.

Government Statistician Epeli Waqavonovono highlighted that the way a country defined employment made a difference in determining labour mobility, job creation and labour markets.

Mr Waqavonovono said in Fiji's case and for a good number of Pacific Island countries, paid and subsistence employment were relevant.

He said subsistence was measured in Fiji's gross domestic product with values derived from the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) whereby the HIES gathered information that was used to derive subsistence production.

The availability of unemployment rate is quite helpful for labour survey in any country and Fiji has been praised for being the only country in the Pacific to have an updated employment/unemployment data available.

Mr Waqavonovono said in case of the US, its unemployment rate was made available on the first Friday after the end of each month while for the Pacific it was updated after five or 10 yearly population census of labour force surveys.

He said administrative records were improving in the Pacific so there were some improvement in the timeliness of the indicator expected in the near future.

According to Mr Waqavonovono, definitions of employment and unemployment made a difference in the rates.

He said when newspapers reported very high unemployment rates, usually those doing subsistence were considered unemployed rather than not in the labour force.

With the UN changing its definition of "work" for the 2020 Round of censuses, he said, it was important to show trends over time.

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