Unemployment Woes

By: Bilal Rasool 

Unemployment has become a global phenomenon in the pandemic-hit globe today. It is a hot button for almost all world economies that indicates the development and backwardness of any country; the states with low unemployment rates prosper whereas the countries undergo unrest wherein the unemployment rate is high.

Even though the first and second world economies are not immune to the surge of unemployment٫ they are facing the toughest of the times and struggling hard to get out of this messy situation٫ so are doing the third world countries.

Pakistan is one of the developing states in which unemployment was a grave issue even long before the emergence of the pandemic; according to statistics of the World Bank, there has been a continuous increase in the unemployment rate since 2010۔ Whereas the Covid multiplied the rate by hundreds and thousands. The Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) pointed at the rising rate of unemployment across the country, underlining 24 per cent of educated people jobless۔ The very (PIDE) Survey report of 2020-21issued in June revealed the spread of pathogen had severely affected employment opportunities in the country and suspended the activities due to excruciating lockdowns that rendered about 2.۔71 million workers jobless۔According to the PIDE unemployment rate has reached 16% though the government tells the story of 6۔5 percent; how credulously we are kept in dark!

Moreover, adverse social tensions, political turmoil, economic blues and educational worries and psychologically negative effects are some of the ills that unemployment breeds. In 1979 M Harvey Brenner found that when the number of people with unemployment increased by 10 percent there is an increase of 1.2 percent in total mortality, 1.7 % increase in cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis cases get increased by 1.3,  1.7 more suicides, 4.0 % arrests are accelerated and more than 0.8 assaults reported to the police. There is another personal cost linked to unemployment, a study found in 2008 from Covizzi the ratio of divorce is higher for couples with no employment. Another study of 2014 by van der Meer found that the stigma that follows when one is unemployed affects personal wellbeing so negatively, chiefly for men, who feel as if their masculine identities are threatened by unemployment. Since the work is not only financial security but, a source of honor and social identity; whensoever we converse, we begin by saying “what do you do?”

Moreover, jobless people report that remaining unemployed is the worst thing that can ever happen in their lives. For it engenders poverty, debt, homelessness and housing stress, erosion of confidence and self-esteem, atrophies skills and health.To add, the lancet published a 2015 study that estimates that unemployment is the cause of more than 45000 suicides a year across the world, and to add, it is estimated to rise manyfold due to covid-19. The higher the unemployment rate the deeper the above-mentioned maladies.

Inter alia, rising unemployment has been regarded by the masses and the media in any state as a key cause of electoral thrash for the government that overlooks it.

Furthermore, unemployment in degree holders is three times more than others in total labour force. Pakistan spews out around 445,000 university graduates and 25,000 to 30,000 computer science graduates annually. But to their dismay, there is stark absence of policies to accommodate them into the job market. Total Jobs Pakistan dishes out according to The Labour Force Surveys of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics is that Pakistan is making only about one million people employed each year. Nevertheless, these jobs are not far ‘well enough’. More than half (53.27 percent) of all who are employed earn not more than 15,000 rupees per month – the legal minimum wage in Pakistan, mostly the employees get into underemployment and in many cases, the work is devoid of dignity.

Moreover, Pakistan is the fifth most populous country and the ninth-largest in labour force in the world that adds hundreds and thousands every year in its labour force۔ This mammoth amount of force warrants immediate action for job creation and management policies.In order to arrest this mushrooming issue of joblessness that is most crucial after the health issue of Covid-19, there is desperate need to control exponential population growth. In every 8 seconds a baby is born in the country that can turn the figure from 220 million to 350 million in coming fifty years. Further, we also need to use our own natural resources to create opportunities. Restoration of meritocracy is sinequanon too to avoid favoritism, nepotism and reference system (sifarish) that are unfathomably entrenched in the system. Inter alia, turning employment opportunities a pivotal pillar of effective economic policy would help; crafting policies to improve the quality of the workplace, to ensure the rights of workers, removing the structural obstacles to work, chiefly for women. Last but not least, being uncompromising to invest in the quality of the worker is indispensable; Once the quality is compromised, all that remains is corruption. To cap it, we are supposed to look into our attitude to demonstrate by all means that it is ‘not okay’. Our dreams are being destroyed, our lives are being turned as meaningless, the youth, the architect of the future are being criminalized. We can not afford to tolerate it anymore. Since unemployed we do not live — we only exist.

The writer is a graduate of Shah Abdul Latif University, Sindh. He can be reached at [email protected]