What steps is the government taking as unemployment rises?

Prothom Alo illustration

What steps is the government taking as unemployment increases?
The question as to whether unemployment is a problem or not in our country is no more a debatable one. Things become clear if one looks at the number of applicants in Bangladesh Cadre Service (BCS) or any other government or non-government job. Even in many cases, several hundred candidates compete against a single seat.  

While taking the aforementioned reality into consideration, the data presented by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) on the country’s workforce is not credible at all. BBS statistics said the number of unemployed people has increased by 40,000 in the last three months of the last year. With this, the BBS shows the number of unemployed people in the country at 2.35 million after the October-December quarter. Of them, males are 1.5 million (15,70,000) and females are 780,000. As per the BBS statistics, the number of unemployed people in the country was 2.31 million at the end of 2022.

Economists don’t agree with the statistics of BBS. They think the actual number of unemployed people is several millions. Center for Policy Dialogue’s (CPD) executive director Fahmida Khatun told Prothom Alo that all the statistics by the government including the number of unemployed people, investment and so on are questionable.

Economists identified the dollar crisis, slump in businesses and lack of new investment as the reasons behind increase in unemployment.  The country suffered from Covid for two years and then came the Russia-Ukraine war which added more pressure on the economy. As a result, private investment has decreased in the country. Dollar crisis has severely affected the supply of all important gas and electricity. Increase in unemployment is only normal in such a situation.

BBS said those who could not do any work for even an hour in seven days despite trying to find work have been identified as unemployed. Also, those who looked for work in exchange of salary, wage or profit 30 days before the survey were also identified as unemployed. While many impoverished people cannot run a family even by back breaking work for day and night, working for an hour in a week does not make any difference for them. This can never be the criterion for determining unemployment. The youth of the country are risking their lives to go abroad as there is no employment opportunity for them here.

According to the BBS, at least two million people enter the job market every year. Around 1.3 to 1.4 million of them get employed inside the country while the rest go abroad. As a result, the number of unemployed people has remained within 2.4 to 2.8 million for the last two decades.
Awami League’s election manifesto pledges increasing employment opportunities. But we do not see any visible action in this regard. If the government wants to decrease unemployment, is our banking sector ready to cooperate with it? Many banks are now suffering from a liquidity crisis.

Every branch of the economy is interconnected. The issue of unemployment must be dealt with in light of overall economic development. To decrease unemployment, the government has to set up new industries so that the unemployed youth can work there.