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The Labour Force Survey (LFS) for the year 2020 was conducted in the months of November and December 2020. The LFS is being conducted annually to provide information on the key indicators and associated characteristics of the labour market in accordance with the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.

The scope and coverage of the survey is at the national level. A total of 9,012 households were selected from twenty Dzongkhags, out of which about 38% (3,420 households) were in urban and 62% (5,592 households) were in rural areas.

Key Findings
1. Working-Age Population (aged 15 years and above): The working-age population is estimated at 488,336 persons (233,844 males and 254,492 females). Of the total working-age population, 331,222 persons (51.2% males and 48.8% females) are economically active.

2. Labour Force Participation Rate: The Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), which is the economically active population expressed per 100 working-age population, is estimated at 67.8%. The LFPR for male population is 72.5% while it is 63.5% for females. The LFPR for rural areas (69.7%) is higher than that of urban areas (64.0%). About 68% of the economically active population resides in rural areas.

3. Economically Inactive Population: Out of the total working-age population, 157,114 persons (32.2%) are economically inactive. The economically inactive population is comprised of 59.1% females and 40.9% males. About 63% of them are found in rural areas, while 37% reside in urban areas.

4. Employment: The country’s employment rate is estimated at 95.0%. Of the total (314,562) employed persons, 220,406 persons (70.1%) reside in rural areas and 94,156 persons (29.9%) in urban areas. The share of employed persons among males and females is 52% and 48% respectively. Among the employed persons, 41.9% are in the age range of 25-39 years.

5. Unemployment: Out of 331,222 economically active persons, 16,660 persons were without work, and actively seeking and available for work during the reference period. This translates to an unemployment rate of 5.0%, which is the highest till date. The unemployment rate for females (6.0%) is higher than that for males (4.1%). The unemployment rate for urban areas (10.1%) is four times higher than that of rural areas (2.7%). Among Dzongkhags, Thimphu has the highest unemployment rate with 12.3%, followed by Paro (9.4%), Chhukha (5.8%) and Punakha (5.2%). In terms of distribution, Thimphu Dzongkhag has the highest unemployed persons (6,872 persons) followed by Paro (1,892 persons), Chhukha (1,637 persons) and Sarpang (974 persons) Dzongkhags.

6. Youth Unemployment (aged between 15-24 years): The overall youth unemployment rate is estimated at 22.6% (6,922 persons). Among the unemployed youth, 38.7% (2,676 persons) are males and 61.3% (4,245) are females. By area, 60.7% (4,201 persons) of the total unemployed youths are found in urban and 39.3% (2,721 persons) in rural areas. Among Dzongkhags, Thimphu has the highest youth unemployment rate with 37.1%, followed by Paro (29.6%), Pema Gatshel (27.8%), Sarpang (25.3%), Dagana (24.8%) and Chhukha (24.2%). In terms of distribution, the highest number of unemployed youths is found in Thimphu Dzongkhag (2,828 persons) followed by Paro (721 persons) and Chhukha (604 persons) Dzongkhags. Of the total unemployed youth, 45.7% has completed higher secondary education followed by bachelor’s degree (23.0%) and middle secondary (17.2%).
The high unemployment rate in 2020 could be attributed to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on businesses and service sector. The rate would have been much higher had it not been for the timely intervention by the government under the leadership of His Majesty the King.