Over the past two years an increase of 4.9% in the working age population who are economically active was recorded in the country, according to the National Planning Commission’ (NPC) annual report of 2013/2014.
This resulted in an increase of the 112 513 people entering the labour force, which also led to a 2% increase of new entrants who are able to find employment. Automatically this meant the unemployment rate rose from 27% in 2012 to 29% in 2013.
According to the report, this was an indication that more people entered the market than what the economy can sustain of which a total of about 59 925 jobs were created between 2012 and 2013.
The National Planning Commission’ (NPC) Public Relations Officer, Fillemon Nangonya maintained that the direction remains that new entrants in the labour force are more than what the labour market can absorb on jobs.
“This could be changed if there was a massive absorption of new entrants mainly youth to reverse the trend. Since our Labour Force Survey is done once per year, we would not speculate about the increase or decrease of the participation rate in the absence of statistics,” he said.
Nangonya went on to say that the government is trying its best to combat unemployment in the country through mass registration of jobseekers, job canvassing as well as registration of potential employers but this part is not regulated yet.
“The jobseekers’ database at the Ministry of labour continues to call for jobseekers’ registration and does job placement. The Government through tendering process has tried to introduce TIPEEG which targeted mainly the unemployed youth to be employed in the Agriculture, Public works, Housing & Sanitation, Tourism and Transport sectors. This yielded some desired results though not 100%,” he said.
It was also reported that the Mining sector contributes the highest to the economy but it fails to create more employment, and according to Nangonya, the Agriculture sector remains the biggest employer with 31.4% of the total employment.
Nangonya further noted that the mining sector is not a labour intensive sector, adding that it is rather capital and technologically intensive. He went on to say that for the mining sector to become one of the biggest employers, much of its produce should not be exported in its raw form.
“Rather processing of such produce into finished goods should take place within the country. Currently, the raw form exported is creating employment outside the country where processing into finished good is done,” he added.
According to the report, the mining sector is targeted to grow by 3.2% in 2013 but following a growth of 19.3% in 2012, the sector’s growth slimmed by 1.2% in 2013.
The report also noted that the construction sector was sustained by the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg) activities and it recorded a vigorous growth of 35.2% of employment was created compared to the NDP4 target of 15% in 2013.
“Though the sector did not reach the NDP4 target during 2012, it recorded a respectable growth of 7.2%. The sector is estimated to continue with a positive outlook as the construction of the mass housing programme kicked off early in 2014 and continued construction in the mining sector,” stated the report in part.
Due to the link between unemployment and the economy, the economy decreased with 2.3% in 2013 as a 4.4% growth rate was recorded compared to the growth rate of 6.7% recorded in 2012.
Nangonya attributed the decrease to the slow growth in the primary industry which contracted by 9.3% points from 16.7% due to the drought that affected mainly Agriculture, both crop and livestock farming. “The exchange rate that was not favourable for minerals also contributed to the slow growth,” he said.
However, the predictions in the report indicated that the economy will expand by 5.2% in 2014 due to a dynamic growth in the tertiary and secondary industries and in 2015 it will expand to 5.3% due to the primary and secondary industries which is estimated to grow by 7.5% and 5.3% in that order.