18 March 2021

Covid 19 and its impact on Labour force in Rwanda

According to the Labour Force Survey results of November 2020(Q4), the unemployment rate in Rwanda was 20.3 percent compared to 16.0 percent in August 2020(Q2); indicating an increase of 4.3 percentage points A higher increase was observed among males (5.6 percentage points) as compared to females (2.7 percentage points). The comparison of unemployment rate  of May 2020 and  the one of November 2020, reveals that it  decreased among both males and females with a higher decrease among females (2.6 percentage point) as compared to males (1.0 percentage points)

The employment-to-population ratio decreased in November 2020(45.1 percent) as compared to August 2020(48.9 percent) and became relatively lower than the one registered one year ago in November 2019(46.5). As result of a decrease in employment, and increase in unemployment, the labour force participation rate decreased at relatively lower pace than the employment to population ratio. It decreased from 58.2 percent in August 2020 to 56.5 percent in November 2020.

Labour underutilization rate which accounts for unemployment, time-related underemployment and potential labour force was estimated to 59.8 percent in November 2020 and it increased compared to November 2019 (54.4 percent) and August 2020 (56.3 percent). The labour underutilization rate was remarkably higher among females (65.9 percent) as compared to males (53.5 percent).

These results provide evidence of the positive performance of the labour market of Rwanda during the last three years as well as the strength of the labour force survey as measurement instrument, even though the pace was hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The unemployment rate has shown a declining trend since August 2017 from 17.8 percent to 13.1 percent in February 2020 (A decline of 4.7 percentage points in 3 years). However due to Covid19 pandemic, the unemployment rate picked the highest point in the History of Rwanda since 2016. It was 22.1 in May (Q2) 2020 and declined to 16.0 percent in August 2020(Q3) and has increased again to 20.3 percent in November 2020.

 The employment-to-population ratio continues to show a relatively stable trend varying between 45 and 48 percent and was recorded at 45 percent in November 2020.

The labour force participation rate has also been stable as compared with the previous quarter. The labour force participation rate decreased by 1.7 percentage points from August 2020 (Q3) to November 2020(Q4) at National level. It has significantly decreased among males by 3.8 percentages points and slightly increased among females by 0.3 percentage points in the same period.

Note that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has locked down almost all economic activity since mid-March 2020, and as a result the Labour Force Survey (LFS) had to change the way it contacted people for initial interviews, from face-to-face interviewing to telephone-based interview. This change in method of initial contact has had an impact on both the level of response and the non-response bias of the survey, and consequently the survey estimates. However the August 2020 was conducted using face to face interview.

Source: http://www.statistics.gov.rw/datasource/labour-force-survey-2019


Labour statistical Research Team Leader