Labour Force Survey outcomes questioned

29 Aug 2013 08:10
WINDHOEK, 29 AUG (NAMPA) – A senior lecturer in the University of Namibia (Unam)’s Department of Sociology says the definition of unemployment is ‘placed under pressure’ when subsistence farmers are classified as employed by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA).
Prof. Pempelani Mufune was speaking at a public lecture here on Wednesday, titled ‘The Statistics of Employment and Unemployment’, and organised by the University’s Sociology Department.
He said the questionnaires used by the NSA during the 2012 Namibia Labour Force Survey (NLFS) could have been problematic because it gave interviewees the choice to answer ‘Yes’ to most of the questions in the survey. this led to a situation in which most of the interviewees were classified as employed by the agency, even if they had indicated that they had problems of insufficient income.
He said this might have led to the drastic decrease in the unemployment rate, which according to the NSA dropped from 51,2 per cent in 2008 to 27,4 per cent in 2012.
“If you include subsistence farmers in employment statistics, do you classify them as contributing to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? How do you calculate their contribution to the GDP, as it is not market-related?” he questioned.
According to Mufune, the Namibia Labour Force Survey classifies a person as employed when he or she has worked for pay, profit or family gain for at least one hour during the reference period of seven days preceding the interview.
“In principle, the question is ‘does this really distinguish between doing a job and being employed?’ Is there a difference between job-creation and employment-creation?” he further asked rhetorically.
Mufune further stated that many people defined by the NSA as employed may not recognise themselves as employed, because of the insufficient income they receive.
According to the NLFS, in 2008 there were 11 365 subsistence farmers in Namibia. According to the survey, this figure stood at 99 469 in 2012.
“Where do 88 104 additional employed subsistence farmers come from? They are actually created by the 2012 questionnaire,” he reasoned.
An example of a question in the questionnaire was: “In the last seven days, did (name):
- produce any other goods for household use for at least one hour?
- do any work for his /her own or household farm/plot/garden/cattle post or kraal, or help in growing farm produce?
- do any construction or major repair work on his/her own home, plot, cattle post or business, or those of the household for at least one hour?
- catch any fish, prawns, shells, wild animals or other food for household consumption, for at least one hour?”