Expert Group Meeting on Measurement Issues in Labour Statistics
Although most ESCWA member countries collect and disseminate annual data on the labour force, there are still serious gaps in some internationally recommended indicators and the reliability of others is uncertain. According to ESCWA Statistical Abstract 2010, about six out of the fourteen member countries of ESCWA provide annual estimates of the rate of unemployment for the period 2001-2007.
This situation could be due to several factors: (1) the lack of skilled human resources in the field of labour statistics in some countries; (2) the lack of financial resources to undertake comprehensive labour force surveys regularly in some countries; (3) discrepancies in definitions and the implementation of international recommendations in labour statistics; and (4) difficulties in capturing relatively new but important indicators such as those pertaining to decent work, informal employment, underemployment and unemployment dynamics. Currently, we lack a full picture of the labour force, including underutilization of labour especially among the youth, in some ESCWA member countries.
Recently, there has been an increase in the demand for reliable and comparable labour force data including data on youth and women in the labour market, informal sector employment, underemployment, school to work transition, and on decent work/ working conditions. Indeed, mass protests that swept several Arab countries earlier this year demanded governments’ states to improve living conditions and to offer decent jobs for youth. Therefore, a full picture of labour force is needed to enable policy makers and planners to draw realistic development plans as well as a strategic picture of the human security conditions in countries of the ESCWA region. Good quality labour force data are also needed for use in policy-informed analytic research by academic researchers in universities and NGOs.
To this end, and based on 9th ESCWA Statistical Committee recommendations, ESCWA’s Statistics Division is organizing an Expert Group Meeting on measurement issues in Labour Force Statistics at the UN-House in Beirut during the period 29-30 June 2011.