August 16, 2010

Release of official unemployment figures postponed

The latest labour survey, which Government has failed to release for nearly a year and which shows that 15 per cent of the population have to take care of the remaining 85 per cent, has been sent back to Cabinet, who is currently "working" on it. The Namibian daily newspaper „The Namibian“ received a leaked copy of the new Namibia Labour Force Survey (NLFS) in February, dated September 2008, which shows that one out of every two Namibians in the country is jobless and has given up hope of finding employment.

Of the 51,2 per cent unemployed people, about 58 per cent are women, and about 44 per cent men. More than 72 per cent of unemployed Namibians have been jobless for two years or more. Labour and Social Welfare Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko told The Namibian at the time that the NLFS would be released and published within about two weeks.

Asked why, after about five months, the report still hadn't been made public, Ngatjizeko said in the meantime it had been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Lands and Social Issues, which discussed it and sent it back to Cabinet. Asked why its release was taking so long and whether there was something wrong with the statistics contained in the report, Ngatjizeko said: "Not actually." Cabinet merely needed time to "consume and understand" the figures, he said.

According to the Minister, the latest NLFS should be released at the employment summit, which should take place in "September or October". The planned summit is but one the measures by the recently established Employment Creation Task Force under Prime Minister Nahas Angula, created by Cabinet to address the unemployment crisis in Namibia.
The fact that Government is dragging its feet in releasing the official unemployment figures was once again questioned and commented upon by several labour experts and economists.

Herbert Jauch, the Head of Research and Education at Namibia's Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) for example said unemployment had an immediate effect on household survival as close to 50 per cent of Namibian households relied on one main wage earner. Unemployment in Namibia has officially increased from 33,8 per cent in 2000 to 36,7 per cent in 2004 and, unofficially, to 51,2 per cent in 2008. Jauch said against these realities, the goals targeted through Vision 2030 increasingly looked like an unattainable "Christmas wish list". (The Namibian)

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