22 October 2020

Title: Covid 19 and its impact on Labour force in Rwanda

Source: NISR, LFS_2017-2020

In May 2020, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has locked down almost all economic activity since mid May 2020, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) had to change the way it contacted people for initial interviews, from face-to-face interviewing to telephone-based. This change in method of initial contact has had an impact on both the level of response and the non-response bias of the survey, and consequently the survey estimates. However the August 2020 was conducted using face to face interview.

In August 2020, there was a significant decline of unemployment rate as compared to the previous quarter due to the increase of the number of employment population and the decrease of unemployed population.  The unemployment rate decreased by 6.1 percentage points from 22.1 percent in May 2020 to 16.0 percent in August 2020; which is the same unemployment rate as August 2019.  Even though there was a significant decline of unemployment rate for both males and females (-6.6 and -5.3 percentage points respectively); the unemployment rate is still relatively higher among females (19.7 percent) as compared to males (13 percent). In addition, the gap between the unemployment rates of both sexes increased to 6.8 percentage points in August 2020 from 3.8 percentage points in August 2019.

Labour underutilization rate which accounts for unemployment, time-related underemployment and potential labour force was estimated to 56.3 percent in August 2020 and it remained almost stable compared to August 2019(56.3 percent. The labour underutilization rate was remarkably higher among females (65.3 percent) as compared to males (47.4 percent).

There has been a remarkable increase of the involvement of students in the labour market as they are waiting for schools reopening. The number of students combining studies and employment increased from 123,100 in February 2020 to 324,084 in August 2020. In the same way, the share of employed students in the total employment increased to 8.8 in August 2020 from 3.4 in February 2020 and from 3.0 percent in August 2019. Furthermore, the share of unemployed students in the total unemployment abnormally increased to 15.5 percent in August 2020 as compared to 5.8 and 6.2 percent of February 2020 and August 2019 respectively.

These results provide evidence of the positive performance of the labour market of Rwanda during the last three years as well as the strength of the labour force survey as measurement instrument.

The unemployment rate shown a declining trend since August 2017 from 17.8 percent to 13.1 percent in February 2020 (A decline of 4.7 percentage points in 3 years). However due to Covid19 pandemic, the unemployment rate picked the highest point in the History of Rwanda since 2016. It was 22.1 in May (Q2) 2020 and declined to 16.0 percent in August 2020(Q3).

 The employment-to-population ratio showed a relatively stable trend varying between 45 and 48 percent though it declined to 43.0 percent in May 2020 but rose again to 48.9 percent in August 2020.

The labour force participation rate has also been stable but start to increase and picked to 58.2 percent in August 2020(Q3), a figure that has not been observed in last four years.

Source: http://www.statistics.gov.rw/datasource/labour-force-survey-2019

By MUKUNDABANTU Jean Marc

Labour statistical Research Team Leader