Falling unemployment numbers

Look at the numbers

Between 2009 and 2010, unemployment in our country fell drastically, and impressively, from 4% to 3.3%. At least, that’s what the government has claimed. But some experts have questioned the low unemployment numbers.

So I requested the labour minister for disaggregated data for 2009 and 2010 to study the reductions in unemployment rates. Two bits of interesting figures jumped out at me, as soon as I glanced at the data.

The first was that between 2009 and 2010 unemployment for the age group 15 to 19 years fell 13.6 percentage points. Unemployment for this age group in 2009 was 20.1%. In 2010 it had fallen to 6.5%.

Is that possible?

The second bit of interesting information was that four dzongkhags – Bumthang, Gasa, Trashiyangtse and Trongsa – have no unemployment at all.

Is that really possible?

The third is that Thimphu has only 2,600 unemployed people. To compare: Paro has 1000 unemployed people, and Pemagatshel has 1,200 unemployed people.

Now that can’t be possible.

But according to the government, that is possible. In fact, more is possible, because the prime minister, in his State of the Nation report, just announced that unemployment has fallen even further, to 3.1% for 2011.


Facebook Comments:


  1. I am not sure about others, but “Trongsa – have no unemployment” is possible. Trongsa firstly has a small population comparing to most dzongkahgs of same size. Mangde valley is rugged terrain but fertile valley. Mangdips always sincere, hardworking and self contended. Parents would not let their children waste time in the urban while studying. During off school sessions, every Tronsap school going children will be herding the cattle or working in the fields with their parents. Every individual child develops a skill to undertake the farm works even if they fail in the academic education. The school drop-outs take it prestigious to come back home to work in the fields. Therefore, the ones not employed by the Govt., Corporations, Private are self employed back in their respective communities.

    The population of Mangdi Tshozhe serve the Tsa-wa-sum when in need!

  2. I have seen many boys and girls from Trongsa looking for jobs in Thimphu and other places.

  3. hahahaha…..how can it be???
    this is one of the reasons why Bhutans is dragged in the list of Failed States.

    Common leaders…. check the reality instead of believing in wrong data.

  4. YPenjor & DK,

    When you refer to the unemployment number of ‘x’ dzongkhag, are you referring to the permanent residents (having census details recorded in a ‘x’ dzongkhag) of ‘x’ dzongkhag irrespective of their whereabouts during the period of enumeration or the total population living in a ‘x’ dzongkhag during enumeration period?

  5. reality is different….applicants increare day by day on every vacant ad. this speak for itself

  6. ypenjor
    i doubt if you r from Tongsa. do not boss yourself. tongsa is just one among many.

  7. Unemployment will drop to zero, if Bhutanese, young or old, choose to work, soil hand and accept low wage. Think about thousands of imported people to work in our construction and hydro power projects. If these imported workers are replaced by Bhutanese job seekers, we have no unemployment.

    Unemployment in Bhutan is mismatch between job seekers, skill requirement and high expectation or majority seeking office and white collar jobs.

  8. I think this unemployment figures – sort of bogus are derived from a labour force survey. Labour Ministry spends millions of ngultrums and a good proportion of human resource on carrying out such surveys every year. We need no scientific technique to detect the pathetic fallacy of such surveys. It is so apparent and self-explanatory.

    Instead, a compilation and analysis of data on school pass-outs from Education Ministry, on university graduates from RCSC, and on job seekers from Labour Ministry could generate more credible unemployment figures. On the one hand we collect these data, but on another we conduct surveys to gather data of similar attributes. Anyway we are no strangers to duplication and redundant works!

    By any definition and on any account a dzongkhag can’t have zero unemployment number. This is a bogus report. We must be careful of “official stats” – that too in the hands of a politician.


    I think a “low-wage factor” has arisen to or worsen the mismatch you are talking about. In the last few years we saw a multiple salary increments for the politicians and bureaucrats, but we haven’t heard anything about the daily-wage workers. I am told the minimum wage has been the same for about a decade or so. I also hear that the reason for not incrementing the minimum wage is that most of these workers are foreigners. This indicates we have no intention or plan of replacing them. The countries that don’t import foreign labourers are the ones that pay their native labourers well.

  9. I agree that minimum wage of Nu. 100 per day put off many a-would-be Bhutanese worker. There is definitely a need to raise minimum wage of lowest paid so that many will be gainfully employed. Nu 3000 per month is not even adequate to pay service and other utility charges–forget about schooling, buying minimum necessities or paying house rent that is escalating by leaps and bound. Inflation at present stands around 9-10% that is killing low payed workers and government employees. I am all out for raising minimum wage for blue collar workers.

  10. not to be unexpected..they will fudge figures to pull the wool over the public’s eyes..play around with the data & we get falling unemployment rates & increased tourist arrivals – what a gaffe!!
    the lengths they will go to..but these are the same people who vow they are in the kingdom’s service .. only, they took part in politics after they waited, watched & calculated how they’d profit..they may profess democracy now but, unlike lyonpo sangay ngedup, they never came forward spontaneously..

  11. Technically if you are without work but not looking for work, you don’t count as unemployed. So, my wild guess would be people are so disheartened after so many trys that they have given up looking for work (discouraged worker), which is even worse. Or else how would you explain such a phenomenon where the govt. statistics show no unemployment when the practical reality is that there are so many people of working age that are idle.

  12. If people do not choose to work, they cannot forced to work. It will be a humanitarian issue again.

    I mean, if you survey the unemployment within Thimphu, the society is kind of a mix. 1) Some come from the well-off family, who really do not have interest in work, not really interested to listen to directives, instructions and guidance, forget orders and commands. 2) Some by nature do not like to take responsibilties, risk and challenges. Just like to get paid for standing, seating and gossiping. 3) Some are already drug/alcohol addicts, 4) and some with much ego to undertake blue collar jobs.

    This leaves only 50% of the unemployed genuinely looking for job but their skills not meeting the available avancancy qualification and skills requirement criteria. To solve this, I suggest that every vanacancy slot (govt., corporate and private) must be packaged with a skill development (HRD) programme.

  13. fuentsho says

    the figures are “soda” – false, false, even the upper limit of unemployment figure must be false. Can’t really trust the survey in Bhutan. I really have to understand the nature and techniques of survey and data collection. For now I find it flawed the results of NSB, GNH –

  14. observer says

    The above figure tells that MoHLR does not have any system at work. its just acting as a ministry. if this work would be given to private cnsultants, statiatical figures would be atleast be near to correct one and work done will be faster.

    i dont think we need MOLHR at the moment.
    good bye MoLHR

  15. Your Excellency, your trying to convey worng information to your followers…Above all stastical report is untrue and sounds nonsence acc to ma knowledge…Infact, I did passout in 2008 and there are four of ma frens who haven’t worked for an hour after our graduation and had became potato couch infront of television…but still statical report decreases its rating…How comes it happens like dat…where no one from govt. or MoLHR had interviewd us, either they came to our places while surveying…

    Do you the why rating had brought down by the govt so drastically?…I dont think someone who is helping his or her parents, siblings or relative helping in small business and still depend on somebody can be called as employed…For me,one can be called as employed person if he or she is indenpendent…

    I have been seeing and hearing the true story of unemployment in our country and observing carefully and seriously since,2008…but sadest thing is i cannot go on revolting or protesting…rather our opinions found on papers only…and really cannot see any other ways and means to rise my voice and am still “helpless”…since,2008…

    Never mind it is only one common man opinion out of nearly 700000 Bhutanese…

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