By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sri Lanka’s unemployment rate for the third quarter (3Q18) edged down to 4.1 percent, from 4.2 percent a year earlier, although the participation of females in the labour force continues to remain low, according to the data released by the Census and Statistics Department.
The unemployment rate recorded for 2Q18 was 4.6 percent. The total number of unemployed persons for the third quarter was recorded as 346,998, where males accounted for 2.8 percent of the overall unemployment rate and females 6.6 percent. Although the female participation continued to remain low, compared to males, the overall employment rate for both had dipped from 7.1 percent and 3.4 percent.
The quarterly Labour Force Statistics Bulletin released by the Census and Statistics Department revealed that youth unemployment (age 15–24) was the highest reported amongst all age groups but that too contracted to 19.6 percent,
from 22.5 percent recorded in the previous quarter.
For the age group of 15–24, the survey highlighted that the unemployment rates for males and females were 16 percent and 26.1 percent, respectively.
The highest unemployment rate was reported from the G.C.E. (A/L) and above group, which was approximately 9.5 percent, accounting for 170,470 individuals, of which 4.8 percent were males and 14.2 percent females.
Noting that the female unemployment rates were higher than those of males in all levels of education, the Census and Statistics Department said, “The problem of unemployment is more acute in the case of educated females than educated males, which was observed consistently over the results of previous survey rounds as well.”
The survey further revealed that the estimated economically active population is approximately 8.4 million for the third quarter 2018, of which 64.7 percent were males and 35.3 percent females.
The economically inactive population as of 3Q18 was about 7.8 million, out of which 26.1 percent were males and 73.9
Taking into account the contribution to employment by industries, the service sector remains the largest to provide employment with an engagement rate of 46 percent. This is followed by the industries sector engaging 28.7 percent and the agriculture sector capturing 25.3 percent.
According to the Census and Statistics Department, unemployment has remained below 5 percent since 3Q15, which recorded an overall unemployment rate of 5.1 percent.