A survey of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has found that the country’s unemployment rate went up to 22.39 per cent between April and August, from 2.3 per cent in March, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The unemployment rate, however, dropped to 3.75 per cent in September signalling turnaround in economic activities, said planning minister MA Mannan while sharing the outcomes of the BBS perception survey with reporters at the planning commission on Wednesday.
The survey also found that the household income declined by 20.24 per cent and the expenditure by 6.14 per cent between April and August.
The BBS interviewed 2,040 people over telephone in five days in September for the survey.
Mannan said that the 10-time rise in unemployment rate after March compared with the pre-COVID-19 outbreak period was dropping with the gradual lifting of restrictions on transport and others services.
The government enforced a 66-day shutdown beginning on March 26 to check the spread of the COVID-19.
The BBS survey found that amid the COVID-19 outbreak people’s monthly income dropped to Tk 15,492 in August from Tk 19,425 in March while their monthly expenditure decreased to Tk 14,119 in August from Tk 15,403 in March.
Almost two-third families faced financial problems due to the outbreak and around 21.33 per cent families received assistance from either the government or private organisations.
This is the first-ever rapid survey done by the BBS following the instruction of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, said MA Mannan.
Replying to query as to why there is no assessment on poverty, BBS director Mohammad Tajul Islam said that such assessment was difficult in a rapid survey.
In June, the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies calculated that about 1.64 crore people became new poor in the country due to economic fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of new poor increased by at least 9 percentage points to 29.4 per cent from 20 per cent, BIDS research director Binayak Sen said in his paper on ‘Poverty in the Time of Corona: Short-term Effects and Policy Responses.
The World Bank and BRAC also assessed the adverse impacts of the worst pandemic since World War II with rapid surveys.
Around 68 per cent of the people in urban areas of Dhaka and Chattogram lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a World Bank report titled ‘Losing Livelihoods:
The Labour Market Impacts of COVID-19 in Bangladesh’.
In June, the BRAC in a survey said that the shutdown imposed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak forced 95 per cent people across the country to suffer a loss in their income.
Approximately 51 per cent respondents said that their income was reduced to zero and around 62 per cent of low-income wage earners lost work opportunities, said the BRAC.
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