Headline — 01 July 2017 — by Adele Ramos
14,823 unemployed in Belize

BELIZE CITY, Wed. June 28, 2017–There are over 2,000 more unemployed people in Belize, as joblessness increased from 8% to 9% this April, reflecting the fact that as many as 14,823 people who are of working age (14 years and above) are not even able to get paid work for at least an hour a week.

Belize’s job market has failed to meet the growing demand for work. Although roughly 3,000 new jobs were created, they were not enough to satisfy the burgeoning labor force.

According to data released today by Curwen Arthurs, Statistician I (Labour Force) at the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the majority of those who joined the ranks of the unemployed (more than 6 in 10) are women.

What is also concerning is that even as there are more unemployed people, with a significant increase in joblessness in rural Belize, more people are underemployed – which means that they work for less than 35 hours a week.

The number of underemployed people in Belize grew by 5,659 or roughly 30%, bumping up the figure from about 19,000 to over 25,000.

Those persons who are fully employed work an average of 53.7 hours a week, and those who are underemployed work almost a third of that duration or an average of 18.3 hours a week—a stark contrast by any standard.

The median monthly income is reported at $1,113, a slight decrease.

The ethnic groups hardest hit by unemployment are the Creoles and Garinagu, with unemployment rates reported at 12.3% and 16.9%, respectively, well above the national average. The Mestizos have the lowest unemployment rate at 7.1%, falling remarkably below the country average.

At the district level, the Stann Creek District reported the highest unemployment rate at 13.1%, followed by the Belize District at 10.9%.

Notably, the lowest unemployment rate at the district level is reported for Toledo, at 3.9%.

More females fell out of the labor force and are not even seeking a job, while more males joined the employed labor force. In fact, over 500 females became jobless while more than 3,700 men found jobs, mostly in rural areas.

The SIB sampled 2,800 households for the survey conducted for April and September every year.

Anyone of age 14 years and older who works at least an hour a week or is temporarily absent from their regular job is counted as employed.

The figures are based on the April 2017 population estimate of 385,766. The working age population is 256,705 and the labor force is 164,935. The survey found that 150,112 are employed and 14,823 are unemployed, up from 12,730 last April.

According to the SIB, last April Belize recorded its lowest unemployment rate in over a decade and so an upturn was expected for this April.

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