2.6m new jobs a year difficult in post-pandemic Bangladesh: Economists

8th Five-Year Plan

January 02, 2021 09:16:10

Creating as many as 11.33 million jobs during the 8th five-year plan (FYP) period would be challenging for the government as the fallout of Covid-19, economists said on Friday.

Following the unemployment surge during the pandemic and possible technological transformation, the target of new employment for 2.26 million people a year through fiscal year 2025 would be difficult to achieve, they added.

The government, in its 8th development plan, has set the job creation target between FY 2020-21 and FY 2024-25.

Economists and analysts said the government had failed to achieve its employment generation target in the last 7th FYP period, which ended in FY2020, although that was the best favourable time for the government.

During the last 7th FYP period, Bangladesh created 9.5 million new jobs, or 73.6 per cent of the target, the General Economics Division (GED) estimates said.

The 7th FYP aimed to generate 10.9 million jobs in the domestic market and 2.0 million jobs in the international labour market.

Dr Zahid Hossain, former lead economist of the World Bank, told the FE that the new job creation target in the 8th FYP is “really challenging” owing to the impact of COVID.

The employment growth has already been slow due to sluggish investment situation, he said.

“The coronavirus has made many people unemployed. So, it will be a difficult task to provide employment for the recently-unemployed people as well as for the 2.0 million new entrants to the job market,” Dr Hussain added.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s unemployment rate was recorded at 4.15 per cent in the last fiscal.

A joint survey by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said youth unemployment in Bangladesh may more than double in 2020 if the country takes six months to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused economic output and demand to fall drastically.

In 2019, the youth unemployment rate was 11.9 per cent and it is expected to go up to 20.5 per cent this year in case of a three-month containment scenario and 24.8 per cent in case of the six-month-long containment, said the report.

The ADB-ILO report said some 1.12 million youths would be rendered jobless in Bangladesh in case of a short containment. The number would go up to 1.67 million if the country takes six months to curb the deadly virus.

Executive director of the think-tank Policy Research Institute (PRI) Dr Ahsan H Mansur told the FE that Bangladesh’s slow investment growth and technological transformation in the job market are the big challenges for the employment in future.

Since those realities are persisting, the fulfillment of the job creation target in the 8th FYP would be difficult, he said.

“The per capita investment across the globe for creating every unit of jobs has risen 10 times. Bangladesh is also facing the same challenge. So, it has no option but to raise the country’s investment at a higher pace in the coming days to meet the employment generation target,” added Dr Mansur, a former top executive of the International Monetary Fund.

Dr Derbapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), in a recent analysis, said the slow growth in private investment, particularly in small and medium-scale industries, has resulted in sluggish growth in employment.

The higher GDP growth with a lower level of employment generation indicates that the growth in major economic activities failed to generate the expected level of jobs.

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