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Dec 9, 2020

Unemployment Rate is 13.7 % for September 2020

The Statistical Institute of Belize’s Labour Force Survey for September 2020 puts the unemployment rate at thirteen point seven percent.  Before we get into the details of this figure –we look at the big picture as presented by the S.I.B.  Considering the impact of COVID-19 that has shutdown the tourism industry – leaving thousands jobless – and with just about every other sector impacted – there were raised eyebrows at the figure.  But as the S.I.B. told the media this morning during their virtual press briefing, for this survey they are going by a revised definition of what it means to be employed.  So, if the S.I.B. were to go with the old definition, that unemployment rate would be a whopping thirty percent which when assessing from the surface, one would correlate that joblessness with the existing situation in the country.  But, as the S.I.B. explained today, the refined definition takes into account a number of factors.  To determine who is an employed person, the S.I.B. looks at those who work for pay or profit for one reference week; as well as persons who sell majority of the goods they produce at a household level and a couple other factors.  To be classified as unemployed, the new definition captures those who are without work or looking for work and available to take up employment in two weeks.


Wendy Benavides

Wendy Benavides, Statistician II, SIB

“It can be seen in both instances that employment counts are less compared to September 2019. But the figure using the new definition is even lower. Unemployed estimates using the new definition takes into account all three criteria compared to the previous definition using two criteria of not working and available to work. The unemployment counts using the previous methodology is almost three times larger compared to figures using the new definition. Under the previous more relaxed definition, unemployment levels using the previous definition stand at twenty-nine point six percent compared to thirteen point seven percent using the refined definition in September 2020. The reason why unemployment levels are lower using the revised definition is due to person not looking for work that were previously captured as unemployed now classified as out of the labour force. This is why there is an increase in the number of persons out of the labor force. In comparing underemployment levels, the new definition results in twenty-three point six compared to thirty-eight point zero percent using the previous definition.”


The country’s population is estimated at four hundred twenty-one thousand four hundred and sixty four as of September. The working age population which represents those fourteen and older stands at three hundred and five thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight. The labor force represents fifty-five percent of the working age group and that figure stands at one hundred and sixty-eight thousand six hundred and thirty, while those out of the labor force account for forty-four point nine percent or one hundred and thirty-seven thousand two hundred and eight. We note that the S.I.B. stated this is the first labour force survey that they have conducted via telephone.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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