Sri Lanka’s unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent of job seekers during the last quarter of 2010, the lowest in five years but still remains high among the female population of the country, official data showed.
According to the Department of Census and Statistics, the previous low of 5.4 was recorded in the second quarter of 2010, down from a peak of 6.2 percent a year earlier.
In absolute numbers the unemployed fell to 401,000 in 2010 from the 471,000 in the previous year.
Sri Lanka recorded robust economic growth of 8.6 percent during the fourth quarter of last year with an economic output measured by GDP of Rs. 676.8 billion at constant (2002) prices, as against Rs. 623.3 billion a year earlier, the highest recorded for quarterly GDP growth since 2002.
“Recovery of domestic economy, ongoing infrastructure development projects, re-constructions and resettlement programs in the North and Eastern Provinces, the global economic recovery, creation of self-employment opportunities, increased agricultural activities and sectoral economic development of the country have generated a high level of employment opportunities in 2010, ” said a report compiled by the finance ministry.
The report also shows a continuous decline in the unemployment rate since 2005 which was as high as 7.2 percent to 4.9 percent in 2010.
The lowest ever unemployment ratio since independence was reported in 2008 at 5.2 percent.
However unemployment gradually rose to 6.3 percent by the second quarter of 2009 as a result of the world economic recession which affected the global economy as a whole.
The finance ministry report indicates a high level of female unemployment and low level of female labor force participation over the past years.
Unemployment among the Sri Lanka’s female population stood at 7.7 percent in 2010 against 3.5 percent among the male population while female labor force participation was at 31.2 percent against 67.1 percent among males.
Sri Lanka’s total labor force is estimated at 8.1 million persons with female employees accounting for only 2.7 million.
The report says expected growth and development in service sectors like tourism and BPO, expansion in the manufacturing industry and commercial agriculture will create new employment opportunities in the future. Notable increase in self employment is also expected to reduce unemployment.
Nearly 43 percent of the island’s labor force or 3.1 million are employed in the services sector while 32 percent engage in agriculture and farming. The industrial sector employs 25 percent.