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KARACHI: Along with over 3 million employment loss, around 6.7 million employees experienced a fall in their income due to Covid-19 and imposition of lockdown across the country.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) second quarterly report, in an interview-based survey of 6,000 households, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) ascertained the impact of Covid-19 at national and provincial level. It reflects upon the working situation of individuals before and after the lockdown, and identifies the most affected industries and occupations.

The survey reveals that the total employment was at 55.7 million workers before the imposition of lockdowns, and fell to 35 million when the constraints on movement were at their peak, a decrease of 37 percent. However, since then, with ease in restrictions and gradual restoration of economic activity, total employment recovered to 52.5 million. It means some 3.2 million workers lost their jobs due to Covid-19.

The PBS survey further shows that along with the employment loss, around 6.7 million employees experienced a fall in their income as well.

The survey also presents the distribution of affected workers by industry. It shows that employment in the construction sector was most affected due to the lockdowns as some 59 percent of the working population involved in the sector faced jobs losses, and 21 percent experienced reduction in their income. The survey reveals that employment in the construction sector had not made full recovery by October 2020.

According to SBP report, overall employment growth also turned positive and stood at 0.9 percent for Jul-Nov FY21, in contrast to a contraction of 0.3 percent for Jul-Nov FY20.

On the provincial level, the data indicates an increase in employment numbers for the province of Punjab. For Jul-Nov FY21, employment in Punjab grew by 1.6 percent, in contrast to a 3.9 percent contraction in the same period of the preceding fiscal year. Moreover, the growth in the first two months of Q2-FY21 was 2.3 percent higher over Q1-FY21. This is due to the increasing level of activity in the industrial sector of Punjab, which grew by 3.8 percent in Q1-FY21 and 5.0 percent during Oct-Nov FY21.

In Sindh, the manufacturing sector’s employment growth was negative during the review period. Nonetheless, it is important to note two points here. First, the magnitude of contraction has constantly decreased since the start of FY21. Second, the negative growth is explained by the loss in employment in the steel industry, which constitutes around 8 percent of the total employment reported for the province.

The data for the steel industry was not recorded for the months of April-September 2020, and when the reporting resumed, it depicted a negative 97.5 percent growth for the Oct-Nov FY21 period. The reason behind this reduction could be the layoffs in the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), which accounted for the majority of the steel industry data, available in the monthly industrial survey. Excluding the data for steel industry, employment for Sindh shows an increase of 0.3 percent during the first two months of Q2-FY21.

Cotton textile, which showed a negative employment growth during Jul-Nov FY20, recorded a 0.4 percent growth during Jul-Nov FY21. The pace of growth also improved between Q1-FY21 and Q2-FY21, in line with the pickup in the textile sector growth in the LSM index.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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