April 2023 Labor Force Survey Shows Decrease in Unemployment
Twice a year, the Statistical Institute of Belize conducts its Labor Force Survey to see how many Belizeans have jobs or are looking for work. Over three thousand households countrywide were sampled to produce the April 2023 Labor Force Survey. The SIB interviewed participants on their employment status, income, working hours, and reasons why they might not be working. The country is then split into those within the labor force, who are either employed or unemployed but looking for work, and those who are outside the labor force, who aren’t working and not actively seeking a job. The data showed that unemployment was down when compared to October 2022 and that over seven thousand Belizeans gained employment. Statistician Curwen Arthurs explained the SIB’s preliminary findings.
Curwen Arthurs, Statistician I, Statistical Institute of Belize: “In April 2023 about 24.7% of the population were less than 14 years of age, and about 75.3% were 14 years and above. For this survey the population of interest is those of working age 14 years and above, of which about 58.5% were in the labour force, either employed or unemployed and about 41.5% were outside of the labour force. In April 2023 there were about 190,037 persons or 97.2% who were employed and about 5,559 persons or 2.8% who were unemployed. Of all employed persons, about 12,441. or 6.5% were underemployed. From the April 2023 survey again there are about 5,559 persons who were classified as being unemployed representing an unemployment rate of 2.8%. The findings showed that there were more persons in employment compared to October of 2022 and more persons outside of the labor force which influenced the rate. Looking at the unemployment rates by district now, all districts had lower unemployment rates compared to October of 2022 except for the Cayo and Toledo districts. The highest rate of unemployment was recorded for the Toledo district and the lowest recorded for the Orange Walk district.”
Arthurs also noted that while more Belizeans became employed, men continue to have a higher participation rate in the labor force than women.
Curwen Arthurs, Statistician I, Statistical Institute of Belize: “We see that of the 195,596 persons that were either employed or unemployed, the country’s labor supply was mainly from rural areas, with about 99,241 persons, or 50.7%, coming from rural areas and this population were mostly made up of males with about 117,592 persons, or 60.1%. being males. Looking at participation, overall, participation in the labor force was 58.5%, meaning 58.5% of working-age persons were economically active either being employed or unemployed. Males continued to participate at higher rates than females at 7.6% compared to 45.8%.”
Director General of the SIB, Diana Castillo-Trejo, said that men making up most of the labor force is a common trend across labor force surveys, and shared some insight as to the reasons.
Diana Castillo-Trejo, Director General, Statistical Institute of Belize: “One of the main takeaways from this round of the labour force survey is that we saw a decrease in persons who are classified as unemployed. So we had a low in October of 5%. We are seeing the unemployment rate, persons classified as unemployed, even lower at 2.8%. However we are still seeing, as you said, low participation among females. So among females who are of working age only about 45% of them actually participate in the labour force. This has been a common theme across rounds of the labour force and so the labour force still continues to be dominated in large part by males. So among women, the most common reason maybe just under half of women who are not participating meaning they are not working, they are not looking for work, they are not available, is that they are engaged in domestic duties. So that’s child care, that’s caring for elderly relatives for example. Now among males the reason is different. Among males the most common reason for not being a part of the labor force is that they are engaged in school or in training.”
The SIB stressed that the findings are preliminary and that the next labour force survey will be done in September.