Youth unemployment rate increases to 28.6% in 2022

Sarpang district tops the charts, while Gasa has the lowest percentage of unemployed youth

The number of youth unemployed in the country rose in 2022 with an estimated 28.6% of youth unemployed. This is an increase by 7.7% as compared to 20.9% in 2021 according to a recent report released by the National Statistics Bureau (NSB).

The report states that as there is no overlap in the confidence intervals, the increase is statistically significant. In terms of absolute numbers, there were 8,496 youth who were without work, actively seeking and were available for work during the reference period.

The number of females unemployed was more with 32.8 %. The youth unemployment rate estimated for male was 24.4%.  Similarly, the report shows that there is a difference in youth unemployment rate among males and females both in urban and rural areas.

According to the report, youth unemployment is more of an urban phenomenon with 35.6% which is more than that of rural areas which is 22.7%.

Amongst the dzongkhags (districts), Sarpang has the highest youth unemployment rate with 44.2% followed by Thimphu with 39.8%. The unemployment rates in Zhemgang is 32.3%, Lhuntse 32.5%, Haa 29.1%, Trashi Yangtse dzongkhag 27.5% and Paro 26.9%.

Gasa Dzongkhag has the lowest youth unemployment rate with 1.7%.

Comparing by sex, there is a wide variation amongst dzongkhags. The highest female youth unemployment rate is observed in Sarpang dzongkhag with 46.0% and the lowest in Gasa with 3.1%.

Similarly, the highest male youth unemployment rate is observed in Sarpang Dzongkhag with 42.0%, while Gasa Dzongkhag has no male unemployment rate recorded in 2022.

The NSB’s report also shows the trend of the youth unemployment rate. It is seen that it has fluctuated over the period of six years with the highest rate observed in 2022 with 28.6% and lowest in 2019 with 11.9%.

Further, the female youth unemployment rate has been dominating over the years.

Meanwhile, youth unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of unemployed persons in the age group 15-24 years to the labor force (also known as economically active population) in the same age group.

According to the NSB, youth have the potential to impact the overall socio-economic development of the country. If this human capital remains untapped or overlooked, it can lead to an increasing social burden for the country.

The report mentions that investment in employment creation has been the top priority over the years for the government and that investments and involvement of the private sector also play an equally important role in solving youth unemployment issues.

The NSB’s survey involved collecting information on the reasons for being unemployed. Among several reasons cited, NSB found that recently completed studies with 31.2%, lack of adequate qualification with 21.4%, qualification mismatch with 10.5%, and voluntarily resignation from earlier jobs (8.8%) are the major ones.

The reasons for being unemployed also vary slightly among males and females. Among the males, 30.8% reasoned that they have recently completed their studies, while the corresponding figure for females is 31.4%. However, the percentage of females who mentioned ‘lack of adequate qualification’ with 23.7% is higher compared to males with 18.1%.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu