Unemployment creeps up to unmanageable levels

Earlier this year, Statistics Botswana revealed that the economy was failing to keep up with the demand for jobs, hence unemployment had crept up to 20.7%, from 17.6% three years ago.

This was contained in a Quarterly Multi Modular Survey (QMTS) focussing on labour which is first of its kind and compares various labour indicators from the third quarter of 2019 with the last full labour survey, the 2015/16 Botswana Multi Topic Household Survey.

According to the survey, the number of economically active people, those employed and those looking for employment, was measured at 940,546 in the third quarter of 2019. This is compared to 836,734 in 2015/16, giving a difference between the two of 103,812 or a 12.4% increase in the economically active population.

The number of employed people aged 15 years and above, meanwhile, went from 689, 528 in 2015/16 to 745,556 in the third quarter of 2019, a growth of about 56,000 jobs or 8.1%. The numbers indicate that the unemployed population aged 15 years and above rose to 194,990 in the QMTS, compared to 147,206 in 2015/16, a growth of about 48,000 people.

Youth unemployment also rose during the period, with the unemployment rate amongst those aged between 15 and 35 years rising to 26.7% from 25.1%. The latest figures show that while the economy continues to create jobs, largely in the formal sector, this is not keeping pace with jobseekers demands. The figures also show that average earnings in the local economy rose to P4.989 in the latest survey from P4,616 in 2015/16. The latest survey shows that by the third quarter of 2019, men were on average earning P6,054 compared to P3,972 for women.

These figures were before the coronavirus (COVID-19) came to our shores. Every week we are reporting about hundreds of workers across the country being retrenched. There is no day that passes without a worker somewhere being laid off from his employment because the company he/she has been working is being liquidated or is rationalising its operations. 

Before the national lockdown on April 2, 2020 union leaders claimed that at least 20,000 workers had already been fired or put on unpaid leave, as the economy shed jobs despite government unveiling wage subsidies, loan guarantees and tax concessions worth up to P3 billion to beat the Coronavirus.

COVID-19 hit all the sectors of the economy resulting in massive job losses. Economists estimate that the economy will take a hit of anywhere between P2 billion and P40 billion in terms of the impact of the Coronavirus, depending on how long the pandemic’s effects last on local shores. It is about time the government and the private sector sit down for a serious tête-à-tête. An economic pitso is long overdue.

Today’s thought

“Economic recovery begins with our

small businesses.”

- Sam Graves

Editor's Comment
Not yet uhuru

The SoE has been in place for close to 18 months as a measure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.Despite the uncertainties that the end of SoE bring, many people are happy that government has finally seen it fit not to extend it.But, sorry to burst your bubble, the pandemic won’t be over until our nation and the rest of the world have reached herd immunity. We must know that we are not out of the woods yet. This simply means that we can’t be...

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