The National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) has embarked on a survey that seeks to indicate the status of employment in the country by using new international standards of measurement.
The fully fledged Labour Force Survey (LFS) was kicked off, last week, and will go on for the next two months with data being collected from 9,344 sample households across the country, while the final report from the study will be published in January next year.
The survey was fully started after a pilot LFS conducted by NISR in Northern Province and the City of Kigali from February to April indicated what some analysts say are more representative of the current employment situation in the country than previous surveys.
Under the LFS programme, which will be conducted in the country every six months, people who are involved in subsistence farming just to get food for home consumption are not considered as employed.
Encouraged by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the new approach towards measuring employment was used in pilot LFS whose results were published by the NISR last month, indicating that the unemployment rate in Rwanda stood at 13.2 per cent in February.
Although some analysts may jump to conclusions and say the provisional finding from the pilot study looks more proportional with the situation on the ground unlike the unemployment rate of 2 per cent that had been estimated by the latest Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4), published in September last year, experts at NISR warn against comparing the two indicators.
“We cannot compare those two indicators because they came from two different definitions of employment and unemployment,” said Michel Ndakize Rugambwa, the NISR’s director of demographic and social statistics unit, explaining about the new approach for employment survey under the LFS programme.
“The new definition of work is when you do something and get paid for it or get a profit out of it.”
Under EICV4, most people in rural areas who were engaged wholly or mostly in subsistence foodstuff production were considered as employed even if they didn’t get an income from it.
The approach kept the unemployment rate in the country down at 3.4 per cent in the Population and Housing Census of 2012 and 2 per cent in EICV4.
When NISR officials recalculated data from the Pilot Labour Force Survey of February 2016 in line with definitions for employment and unemployment used in the earlier census and household survey, the unemployment rate in the country was estimated at 2.8 per cent.
Defined as the ratio of the number of unemployed persons to the total labour force, unemployment rate is the most commonly used indicator of the labour market and is generally used as an indicator of any country’s economic health.
According to the results of the pilot LFS, the unemployment rate in Rwanda stood at 13.2 per cent in February 2016. The rate was higher in urban areas, at 15.9 per cent, than in rural areas, at 12.6 per cent.
It was also higher among the female labour force, at 13.6 per cent, than the male labour force, at 12.9 per cent, and among the youth 16 to 30 years old, at 15.9 per cent, than among adults where it stood at 10.6 per cent.
Once the fully fledged LFS is complete in January next year, it will be the standard measure for the unemployment rate and other labour market information in the country and it will be conducted every six months, Rugambwa said.
The LFS programme at the NISR is conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, with technical support from the German Development Cooperation in Rwanda as part of its Technical Cooperation programme called GIZ Eco-Emploi.