Outgoing Prime Minister Imran Khan was often ridiculed by the opposition and an inimical media for his promise to create 10 million jobs in his five-year term. The latest data shows that he was all set to achieve the target despite persistent efforts by the opposition to create political uncertainty throughout his tenure and the onset of the pandemic.
It is an astonishing achievement of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government that it created 5.5 million jobs in three years and it could have easily achieved its target, if allowed to complete its term, which was cut short by national and international conspiracies. As the pandemic struck, the Imran government refused to shut down the country completely to save the jobs of daily wagers. Then it announced incentives for the industry, which created a large number of jobs. However, it was the biggest failure of the government that it could not control prices, though it was an international phenomenon.
According to the Labour Force Survey released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the economy created 5.5 million jobs during the past three years, on an average 1.84 million jobs a year, which is far higher than yearly average of the creation of new jobs during the 2008-18 decade. In Sindh, the unemployment rate significantly went down to just 3.9% in three years as joblessness increased in all other three provinces, mainly because of the pandemic, the highest being recorded at 8.8% in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) during the last fiscal year.
The survey of over 6,808 enumeration blocks and 99,904 households reveals the national joblessness rate stood at 6.3% at the end of the last fiscal year, which is better than the preceding year but higher than 5.8% recorded at the end of the PML-N tenure. The findings showed that the number of employed people increased to 67.3 million by June 2021 –up from 61.7 million at the end of the PML-N term. However, the official unemployment rate which in June 2018 was 5.8% went up to 6.3% at the end of the third year of the PTI rule. The unemployment rate was the lowest in Sindh at 3.9% and the highest at 8.8% in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, followed by 6.8% in Punjab. In Balochistan, the rate was 4.3% in 2020-21 against 4.6% in 2018-19.
During 2018-23, on an average 1.84 million jobs a year were created, far better than the yearly average recorded during PML-N and PPP governments. In the five year of the PPP (2008-13), about 6.9 million jobs had been created with a yearly average of 1.4 million. Compared to it, during the PML-N’s rule (2013-18), about 5.7 million jobs had been created with an average of 1.14 million a year. The average economic growth rate during the PML-N rule was significantly higher than the average growth rate during the PTI tenure. For the first time in the past 70 years, the country had also witnessed 1% contraction in the Gross Domestic Product during the fiscal year 2019-20, when the world was struck by the global pandemic.
Over 31% of the country’s youths were unemployed by 2018-19, according to a report released by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). All persons of 10 years of age and over who worked at least one hour during the last one week were treated as employed persons. However, the employed people’s definition of 10 year’s age was not consistent with Pakistan’s global commitments to end child labour. The definition needs to be revisited, experts say.
In terms of sectors, the share of agriculture in total employment went down from 38.5% from three years ago to 37.4%. But the share of the industrial sector increased from 23.7% to 25.4%. The services sector’s share in employment also decreased from nearly 38% to 37.2%. In absolute terms, during the past three years about 2.5 million jobs were created in the industrial sector compared with 2.1 million during the PML-N tenure. Another 1.4 million jobs were created in the agriculture sector and 1.7 million in the services sector. During the PML-N tenure around 4.3 million jobs had been created in the services sector.
The International Labour Organization has also endorsed the findings. When Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced his manifesto to create 10 million jobs, media persons and political leaders mimicked the claim, terming it impossible. However, the survey proves the target was quite achievable in five years. Some 720,000 people had lost their jobs in the agriculture sector in the PML-N government, while the PTI government created around 1.42 million new jobs in the sector, which means Pakistan’s agriculture sector is flourishing. Agriculture witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years. Growers are now getting handsome rates of their produce after the government enhanced the support price of almost all crops.
In the industrial sector, the PTI government created 2.404 million jobs in three years, while the PML-N provided jobs to 2.08 million in the sector in five years. It shows Pakistan’s industrial sector is expanding at a rapid pace. After reforms in the industrial sector and introduction of the textile policy, the sector witnessed rapid growth, attracted investment worth billions of dollars and produced millions of new jobs. In the two years of the pandemic when the world’s economies plunged to new lows, Pakistan created some 3.2 million new jobs.
The yearly increasing rate shows that on average, 62% more jobs were created during the PTI government’s three years as compared to the same period of the PML-N government. Besides, 1.1 million people got jobs abroad through the Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment. It is hoped the PTI will come to power again with even better policies to expedite the country’s progress.