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Agri labour picks up in 4Q

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  • Agriculture employment recovers from 24.3% to 27% as weather improves 
  • Industries and services see marginal decline of 28.3% and 44.7% respectively 
  • Working age household population at 15.9 million, unemployment hits 4%

Sri Lanka’s labour survey for the fourth quarter of 2017 showed agriculture employment had picked up from 24.3% in the previous quarter to 27%, with services and industries showing a marginal decline.   

The Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), releasing the labour force survey for the fourth quarter of 2017, said industries had reduced from 29.1% in the third quarter of 2017 to 28.3% while services had contracted from 46.6% to 44.7% in the same period. 

In the fourth quarter of 2016 agriculture was 27.6%, suggesting that the agriculture sector recovered from bad weather earlier in the year. A corresponding increase in GDP numbers also reflected the upturn in the least quarter of 2017. 

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is designed to measure the levels and trends of employment, unemployment and labour force in Sri Lanka. This survey has been conducted quarterly since the first quarter of 1990. The 2017 fourth quarter LFS survey is the 105th round of the quarterly survey series, which is based on a sample of 6,440 housing units covering the whole country. 

The working age of a person in Sri Lanka is defined as 15 years and above. The estimated working age household population for the fourth quarter of 2017 is about 15.9 million. 

The total working age population which is employed or unemployed during the reference week is identified as the economically active population or the labour force of the country. The estimated economically active population was about 8.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, of which 63.6% are males and 36.4% are females. 

Labour force population expressed as a percentage of the working-age population (age 15 years and above) is the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR). The survey results reveal that the overall LFPR for the fourth quarter of 2017 is 54.1% and this is recorded as 74.9% and 36.4% for males and females respectively. 

Persons who worked at least one hour during the reference period (week prior to survey date), as paid employees, employers, own account workers or contributing family workers are said to be employed. The estimated employed population for the fourth quarter of 2017 is about 8.3 million, of which 44.7% are engaged in the Services sector, 28.3% in the Industry sector and 27% in the Agriculture sector.

The highest employment share is reported for the Service sector and a similar pattern is observed by gender. 

In this quarter, the lowest employment share is reported for the Agriculture sector. The survey also reveals that 67.9% of the employed population work more than 40 hours a week. 

Unemployed persons are defined as persons who were not working and if they were looking for work, have taken actions to find a job and are ready to accept a job given an opportunity during the next two weeks. The proportion of the population unemployed to the total labour force is defined as the unemployment rate. The estimated unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2017 is 4%.


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