Belize’s official unemployment rate is 14.2%, down nearly two points from the all-time high of 16.1%.
That is the major news development coming out of a press conference hosted today by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the country’s primary provider of economic and other statistical data.
The figure comes from the twice-yearly Labour Force Survey carried out in September 2013. SIB Deputy Director-General Dr. Leopold Perriott goes into the numbers.
“The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons divided by the number of persons in the labour force and countrywde it is 14.2% of the unemployed people in the labour force. It has decreased from 24,000 in September in 2012 to 21,300 in September of 2013. We leave April because September gives the highest point for unemployment to compare for the year”.
That all-time high dates back one year before, to September 2012. More than twice as many females (21.5%) as males (9.6%) are unemployed, a ratio of three to two.
The total labour force – all persons of working age, that is, 14 years of age and older, and who are not students, housewives, retired or disabled persons is over 149,000, and 128,000 of these are employed – that is, they have worked at least one hour per week in that month whether for themselves, for others, or even just “ketch and kill.” Slightly more persons are employed in the towns and cities than in the rural areas, and unemployment is highest in Cayo District at 16.7%, and lowest in the Orange Walk District at 11.8%.
In comparison with 2012, only Stann Creek District saw a slight rise to 15.1% from 14.9%. Those two districts lost 1,500 jobs between them from 2012 to 2013, but increases in the Belize and Cayo Districts made up for it.
Two-thirds of all Belizeans work in the service sector, which covers skilled jobs; another 18% are in the primary sector as farmers and fishers, and 14% work in construction or manufacturing.
Some 27% are self-employed, but twice as many – 58% work in the private sector. The Government employs just 11.6% of all Belizeans.
Later, Dr. Perriott told PLUS News that the Institute’s survey, which it will next conduct in April of this year, does cover seasonal shifts such as the annual influx of graduates into the workforce and employment in the sugar, citrus and banana industries. But according to SIB Director General Glenn Avilez, they do not expect to provide a more closely assessed level of data, say from month to month, in the near future.
Mr. Glenn Avilez: “There is a high season and low season of employment. So there is a high unemployment in September because kids are coming out to school and leaving their job in the assembly, and there is a low unemployment in April. So, that’s a seasonal effect”.
Reporter: “So, the Institute is a matter of resources, but do you see a month to month calculation of unemployment on a whole generally?”
“Possible, but not in the near future. We have moved from an annual survey; it was done in April, and we are doing it twice in April and September. I guess the next move will be quarterly, but to jump from twice to four parts is far too much”.
Youths aged 14-24 account for 25% of the unemployment rate, but that figure is cut in half for the age bracket above them, 25-34. The numbers dip from there to about 10% of persons over the age of 55. The slides in this story, used to illustrate the data are courtesy the Statistical Institute of Belize.