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Sri Lanka unemployment drops to 4.1-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s unemployment has dropped to 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 4.4 percent a year earlier, and also from 4.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016, data from the state statistics office show.

Most of the jobs were created in the services and industrial sectors, while the agriculture sector was flat amid a drought.

However for long term prosperity people have to move out of agriculture into industry and service, pushing up mechanization and labour productivity in agriculture.

The Department of Census and Statistics said the changes were not statistically significant.

The total employed population rose to 8.006 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 7.928 million a year earlier and was marginally up from 7.998 million in the third quarter.

Quarter-on-quarter data are not comparable partly due to seasonality of agriculture.

Workers in services rose to 3.74 million in December 2016 quarter from 3.67 million in 2016.

Workers in Industries rose to 2.05 million from 1.957 million, but was down from 2.144 million in the third quarter.

Workers in agriculture rose slightly to 2.209 million in the fourth quarter from 2.2 million in 2015. There generally a pick up agriculture workers in the fourth quarter and first quarter of the following year during the Maha cultivation season.

However this year Sri Lanka has is feeling the lagging effects of last year’s drought.





An unemployment rate of 4.1 percent is the lowest seen since the fourth quarter of 2014.

Sri Lanka also has a large expatriate workforce.

Due to currency depreciation, large number of workers seek jobs in the Middle East where returns to labour are higher and strong exchange rates have preserved capital allowing for investment.

Similar trends are seen in countries with weak currencies such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Countries with strong currencies such as Korea, Singapore and Malaysia and net importers of labour. (Colombo/Apr03/2017)

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