Next round of labour force survey

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By Iipumbu Sakaria

IN our pursuit to provide timely and relevant statistics for policy makers and the nation at large, we are busy preparing the next round of the Labour Force Survey.

This survey provides us with information about the labour market, such as how big it is, how many are employed in which sector and what the unemployment rate is, amongst others. Initially the survey used to be conducted every four years, but is now conducted on a yearly basis. This is done with the purpose of keeping up with the changes in the labour market.

Whenever labour force survey statistics are released they are always received differently in different sectors. Some are happy and some are not happy. This is mostly due to their own observations of how they perceive the labour market to be. The most common remark is usually based on whether the unemployment/employment rate is indeed accurate as provided. In other cases some start asking questions as how these figures are derived at.

For the sake of clarity, in the labour force framework the population is divided into two major groups; the active and inactive population. The economically inactive population includes all persons below the age of 15 years. This is due to the fact that those below 15 years are not considered legally employable as it borders on child labour. In addition, the inactive population also covers all persons over 15 years of age who are not available for work since they are full time learners or students, involved in household duties, ill, disabled or on early retirement. This section does not form part of the labour force and hence does not affect the employment/unemployment rate. The economically active population on the other hand comprises persons within the working age group of 15 years and above with the exception of those classified as economically inactive. 

The measure is affected by how unemployment is defined. Namibia generally uses the broad definition of employment which requires that the person was available for work in the preceding seven (7) days, but does not require that the person actively sought work. This broad measure is considered appropriate in a developing country where there are limited formal avenues through which people can look for work. The strict definition of unemployment requires that the person was available for work and also took active steps to find work. 

The aim of providing these labour market figures is to provide statistics for evidence-based planning and crafting policies relevant to the situation on the ground. For example, the latest labour force survey shows that the official unemployment rate is 29.6 per cent while it is 41.7 per cent for the youth. For males the unemployment rate is 25.8 per cent and 33.1 per cent for females. Furthermore, the statistics show us that 51 per cent of all households derive their income through salaries and wages, 19 per cent indicated that their main source of income is derived from subsistence agriculture, 9.5 per cent through remittances and only 7 per cent listed business activities as the source of their main income. 

Hence, policy makes would look at these statistics and come up with interventions that are to shape the society into the desired direction. Looking at figures would, for example, indicate that we might just need to create more potential employers instead of employees if we are to reduce our unemployment rate as per Vision 2030. It also shows that interventions might have to take gender disparities into consideration. 

The 2014 Round of the Labour Force Survey has now arrived and the actual survey will be conducted from the 29th September 2014 until 11th October 2014. 

The results will be available towards the end of March 2015 and will serve as evidence for crafting of appropriate policies to tackle our challenges. You are all required to cooperate with our field workers when they come to your households to conduct the 2014 Labour Force Survey. 

• Iipumbu Sakaria is the Deputy Director for Strategic Communications at the NSA.