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Sri Lanka’s unemployment at 4.2-pct in 3Q 2017, shift from farming

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s unemployment fell to 4.2 percent in the third quarter of 2017 from 4.5 percent a year earlier, with a shift from low productivity agriculture to industry and services, official data showed.

A survey by Sri Lanka’s statistics office showed that in absolute numbers unemployed persons were estimated at 358,350, in the third quarter down from 389,594 in the third quarter of 2016.

There was a sharp increase in the share and absolute number of non-farm jobs.

Agriculture, where productivity is low partly due to protectionism, workers fell to 1.983 million in the third quarter of 2017 from a year earlier. The share of employment in farming fell from 27.1 percent from 24.3 percent.

Industrial workers rose to 2.37 million in the third quarter of 2017 from 2.144 million a year earlier with the share of employment rising to 29.1 percent from 26.8 percent.

Workers in services rose to 3.807 million from 3.686 million, with the share of employment rising to 46.6 percent from 46.1 percent, a year earlier, showing an absorption of new workers.

In the third quarter of 2017 the agriculture sector, which includes fisheries, contracted by 3.3 percent in real terms, due to a drought, while industry grew 1.9 percent and services 4.3 percent.

Though agriculture employed 24 percent of workers its output was only 7.6 percent of gross domestic product, indicating low worker productivity and earnings.

Industry with 29.1 percent of workers had an output of 27.8 percent. Services accounted for 56.3 percent of GDP with 46.6 percent of the workforce.





For living standards to rise workers have to shift from agriculture to other sectors where capital investment and new technology pushes up labour productivity and wages.

Another survey showed almost half a million vacancies in formal and informal sector firms in Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Jan18/2018)

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