Population and Demography


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  • Published: August 8, 2023 12:00 am

Banjul, The Gambia. The government of The Gambia conducted this survey in collaboration with development partners and other stakeholders with the objective to produce official national statistics on the labour force, employment and unemployment for monitoring and planning purposes. The Labour force survey are the main source behind headline indicators of the labour market for short-term monitoring as well as more structural information on the number and characteristics of the employed, their jobs and working conditions, the job search activities of those without work, etc. The survey results, released today at a validation workshop at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference center organised by the Gambia Bureau of Statistics show important findings on key labour market indicators to be used in evidence-based decision making and in planning and monitoring processes.  Nyakassi M.B. SanyangStatistician-GeneralGambia Bureau of StatisticsNyakass

Labour force status of the working age population: On average, four in ten persons of working age are engaged in the labour market (43.6%), by either working or being unemployed. The population outside the labour force (56.4%), is composed of persons only studying (23.4%), subsistence farmers (9.4%) or persons in other situation such as elderly people, disabled, discouraged job seekers (23.6%).

labour force participation rate (LFPR) is higher for males (47.9%) than for females (39.6%) in all age categories. The profile by age group shows that young people enter the labour market later due to longer education. The participation reaches a maximum in prime ages (35-59 years) around 60 per cent and then declines at the age of retirement. In terms of place of residence, the LFRP is much higher in urban compared to rural aeras (62.6% and 37.4% respectively). This result is partly impacted by the survey period after harvesting.  

The employment-to-population ratio informs on the share of the working age population who is employed. The employed are all those persons of working age who, during the previous week, were engaged in any activity to produce goods or provide services in exchange for pay or to generate profit (in cash or in kind). The employment to population ratio is 40.3 per cent and offers a similar picture to that of the labour participation rate since the labour force mainly consists of employed persons.

The unemployment rate stands at 7.6 per cent. The unemployed are persons of working age who (i) were not employed during the previous week preceding the date of interview, (ii) actively looked for a job in the past four weeks, (iii) have been available for a job during the previous week or in the two coming weeks after the date of interview.

The indicator does not reflect the unmet needs for employment and new indicators have been developed by the ILO to better measure the various forms of labour underutilization. Labour underutilization refers to the total number of persons in the labour force who are not being fully utilized, as well as some who are outside the labour force but who have a stronger attachment with the labour market and can be considered as potential labour force. The potential labour force gathers persons who are (i) either seeking employment but are not available or (ii) who want to work but are not seeking. Discouraged job seekers are a subgroup of the potential labour force. The combined rate of unemployment and potential labour force (LU3) reaches 31.6 per cent.

Informality: The concept regroups employment in the informal sector and informal employment. Employment in the informal sector corresponds to workers engaged in private businesses that are not registered with the Gambia revenue authority or that do not keep written records of accounts. The survey reveals that employment in the informal sector amounts to 62.8 per cent of total employment, almost twice higher than that in the formal sector (32.7%).

Informal employment refers to the type of employment relationship of the job holder. Informal employment gathers employers and own-account workers engaged in the informal sector, as well as employees who do not benefit from social protection such as pension funds, paid annual leave or sick leave. The proportion of informal employment in total employment (SDG indicator 8.3.1) reaches 79.4 per cent. A proportion of workers in the formal sector do not benefit from social protection (15.4%).

Youth in the labour market. The survey shows the challenges youth are facing for entering the labour market and accessing quality jobs. Their situation resembles that of women. The youth’s labour force participation rate is around fifteen points below that of adults (38.1% compared to 53.5%). The unemployment rate is three times the corresponding adult rate (10.5% and 3.8% respectively) and almost half of the youths are underutilized, (LU4) stands at 48.6 per cent against 30.6 per cent among adults. On average, six in ten youth work as self-employed and are mainly engaged in informal employment (84.0%). Similar to the adult population, some gender disparities persist, young women are worse off than young males.

Workers with functional difficulties: On average, persons with disabilities represent 4.3 per cent of the working age population, but this proportion reaches 22.3 per cent for those aged 60 years and over. The survey finds a lower participation of disabled in the labour force (32.8%) than that of persons without disabilities (44.1%), that can be partly due to the fact that they are older and may have reached retirement age. Labour underutilization indicators show the same trend, the unemployment rate of persons with disability (SDG indicator 8.5.2) stands at 7.2 per cent, a rate close to that of persons without disabilities.

Child labour: SDG indicator ‘Proportion and number of children aged 5-17 years engaged in child labour’ aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. The survey shows that the proportion of children in child labour stands at 22.9 per cent. The incidence of child labour increases with the age ranging from 21.5 per cent among children aged 5-14 to 28.5 per cent in the age group 15-17.

Child labour is predominant in rural areas whatever the sex of the child, the proportion of children in child labour is almost four times higher in rural areas (38.2%) compared to urban areas (10.3%), and is performed by almost half of the children in Mansakonko, Kuntaur and Janjanbureh. More than one third of children aged 5-14 in rural aeras are in child labour (36.3%) and mainly perform agricultural activities. The rate reaches 46.7 per cent among children aged 15-17 years. 

The survey assesses the impact of work on children’s education. On average, 23.0 per cent of children aged 5-14 years work, the majority of them continue going to school (15.1%) and the remainders (7.9%) only work. Nevertheless, the share of children who only work is doubled in rural areas (13.1%).

In the older age group (15-17 years), 36.4 per cent of the children work but still the majority of them pursue education. The rate of children engaged in work in rural areas amounts to 57.6 per cent of whom 26 per cent only work.

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