Unemployment in Liberia Stands at 2.8% Says Expenditure Survey

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Monrovia – Unemployment in Liberia currently stands at 2.8 percent, according to a new partial Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) conducted by the Liberia Institute and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS).

“We want to compare our national unemployment estimates with other country in the region Ghana 4.6%, Ivory Coast is 4.0, Nigeria 4.8 Guinea is 1.8, Liberia is 2.8, and Sierra Leone is 33.3. Vulnerable employment 74.2%, informal employment 67.9%,” says LISGIS Project Coordinator Ms. Mariah Gilayeneh at a Ministry of Information press briefing.

Madam Gilayeneh said that the definition use by LISGIS for unemployment is the international accepted definition for unemployment.

“A person is considered unemployed when they have not work one hour after the past seven days and in additional you are available.”

But the survey report presented fell short of covering the entire year due to the Ebola outbreak, thus leaving many to question the substantive nature of the findings.

Critics argue that the findings do not represent the reality, adding that the survey year saw many concessionaires putting down employees adding that businesses were closed due to the Ebola outbreak.

“This survey was cut short due to Ebola. You can say the data is not full but it is still useful to the country,” Gilayeneh said.

The head of LISGIS, Dr. Edward Liberty, explained that though the data collected were not a reflection of the entire year, adding that it cannot be abandoned.

“This survey was conducted in 2014 for six months. We have decided to carry the survey for twelve months. Should we abandon the data or we should analyze it? We and our development partners decided and said let’s look what it is in there and what the story is and then we share that with our people,” Liberty said.

Dr. Liberty promised that his institution will rerun the survey to cover a complete calendar year.

“We have decided to rerun the data which will cover twelve months rainy, dry, Christmas and academic season in order to determine the poverty situation with our people. Right now we are looking at the first six months of the year; this data is about how our people are surviving.”

Gilayeneh said that LISGIS conducted the 2014 survey went 50% before Ebola virus took over Liberia.

The Project Coordinator added that the survey shows that 44.6 percent of the population is younger than fifteen.

“44.6% of the population is younger than fifteen years. That’s something our policy maker should be looking at, if almost 50% of your population that is younger than 15, that issue has to with education, health, we need more effort in this area because lot of our young people are down there,” Gilayeneh said.

The report continues: “The poverty level 2014 was put at 54.4%  during the first half, urban poverty level is 43.3% and rural is 70.0%, 54.6% of male headed household was considered to be poor, female 52.7 if you see the data the male is slightly over the female, that is to say male headed household has higher percentage than female.”

Gilayeneh added that Poverty result in 2007 survey was 64% and also in 2010 was 66%, adding that it cannot be a full comparison because of the data collection methodology.

But Gilayeneh averred that in creating a trend, one can say that the 2014 poverty rate was little bit lower than 2007 and 2010.

“Food poverty level is 45.0%. For the urban area 39.7% and rural area is 58.7% food poor. When we talk about food poverty, if you look at people intake and what they spend on food, it is far below the line set.”

“Some household are not actually poor but they use most of their income on nonfood items.”

Gilayeneh added that 18.5 percent of Liberian household was considered extremely poor. “Let’s keep this in our mind that this data was collected in the first half of the year, normally when people are conducting HIES, it should be done to cover up the entire year because you want to capture seasonality.”

The Household Income & Expenditure Survey (HIES) was first planned in 1963 at the national level with 752 sample households in order to determine how people expend their disposable incomes on goods and services for household use.

Although the activity was abandoned due to financial reasons, a limited survey was carried out in Monrovia and its environs in November – December 1964.

The sample consisted of 124 of the sampled of 752 households, comprising of heads who were salaried employees and/or wage earners with a combined income of less than US$250.00 in 1964. Based on the results of this limited survey, the first Base-Period for the Monrovia Consumer Price Index (MCPI) was derived, and is presently being used in calculating the inflation rate and indices for Liberia.

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