AGAINST a significant 7.28 per cent rate of economic growth, the number of unemployed population has increased 0.1 million in 2016-2017 compared to the previous fiscal year. According to the recent labour force survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, as reported in New Age on Sunday, the total numbers of unemployed people are 2.6 million and the total percentage of unemployed people is 4.18 per cent. While the national average unemployment rate remains almost stable at 4.2 per cent, the number of new job creation in the country has declined. The survey shows, if sorted by educational qualification, 1.5 per cent of the unemployed have no primary schooling, 2.7 per cent have some or completed primary schooling, 6.4 per cent have completed secondary or post-secondary level. The most shocking fact is that, among the unemployed, youth having completed their tertiary education, covers a big number of 11.2 per cent. Taking into account the results of the BBS’s survey, economists termed incumbents’ much celebrated policy of economic growth as flawed and ‘jobless growth’.
The sluggish employment creation has raised questions about the high economic growth figures being recorded by the government. Experts find the sharp decline in employment generation in the industrial sector as the result of slow private investment, rise of capital intensive sector and adoption of advanced technologies. The industrial sector, which was a major employment generator between 2000 and 2010, employed only 3 lakh people in the last seven years till FY 2016-17. As a result of this reversal, industrial sector’s share of employment fell to 20.4 per cent in 2016-17, down from the highest 23 per cent recorded in 2013. The share of agriculture in the job market also dropped. Young agriculturalists who had taken interest in ecologically sensitive youth involvement in farming blame the appropriation of farm land by big corporations that are more interested in high yield production than creating jobs. Progressive economists, however, and blamed the government for its GDP oriented, capital intensive economic policy that allows commercialisation of nearly every sector, increases sales, but does not guarantee job creation. In their views, such policy leaves room for corruption and injudicious spending of public money. They further suggest that Bangladesh’s trade policy still provides high protection to import-substituting industries that have high capital intensity while discriminating against labour-intensive export-oriented activities. Therefore, the phenomenon of slower employment growth relative to economic growth suggests the benefits of economic growth are not trickling down.
The disjuncture between economic growth and employment generation is a striking example of the fact that the incumbents’ economic policy is falling short. It is time that the government took time to review its policy that leaves majority of the population behind, particularly the youth and abandoned its capital intensive, GDP oriented development model.
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