Sri Lanka’s unemployment rate rose to 4.6 percent at the end of last year, as the employment in the country’s industry and agriculture sectors declined despite the stagnation in the labour force participation rate, driven by a marked decrease in female labour force participation rates in the year, the Census and Statistics Department data showed.
The unemployment rate recorded for the fourth quarter of 2017 (4Q17) was 4.0 percent. The unemployed in absolute numbers also rose in the last quarter of 2018 (4Q18) to 389,406 persons, compared to 342,210 persons during 4Q17.
The total number of people employed in 4Q18 was estimated at about 8.1 million, compared to 8.3 million in 4Q17.
The number of people employed in the agriculture sector fell to 2.07 million or 25.6 percent of the 8.1 million employed persons, compared to the 2Q17 figure of 2.24 million or 27 percent, despite a marginal pick up in the employment rates in the agriculture sector in 4Q18, compared to 3Q18.
The number of people employed in the industry sector declined by an almost 90,000 to 2.2 million or 27.7 percent.
However, almost 70,000 people joined the service sector in 2018. The service sector employed 3.8 million people or 46.7 percent of the 8.1 million employed people at end-2018.
The overall unemployment rate reported for females was 7.1 percent, which was more than double the figure for males (3.2 percent).
The youth unemployment rate (age 15-24 years) of 21.9 percent was the highest among age groups in 4Q18.
However, there was a large disparity among the female youth category and male youth category as nearly one-third or 28.7 percent female youth were unemployed, compared to the 18.1 unemployment rate among male youth.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s labour force participation rate declined to 52.2 percent at end-2018, compared to 54.1 percent in 4Q17.
In particular, the female labour force participation rate declined to 34.3 percent, compared to 36.4 percent at end-2017.
The economically inactive population of the country simultaneously rose to 7.7 million in 2018, compared to just 7.3 million at end-2017.
Around 74.9 percent of the economically inactive population were females.