Liberia: Labour Force Survey

Liberia: Labour Force Survey


After 14 years of devastating civil war, Liberia is counting on the future by counting the numbers: that is, the number of people who
make up Liberia’s workforce and labour market. For the first time in the country’s history,
an international team organized by Liberia’s Ministry of Labour and the Statistical Institute,
known as “LISGIS”, with technical assistance from the International Labour Organization, is systematically surveying Liberia’s labour market and workforce. It’s been a massive
undertaking. For three months in 2010, 170 interviewers
and supervisors spread out across the country. Members of nearly 6500 households were interviewed
in all of Liberia’s 15 counties. Some of the stories are tragic. Blind man (in Liberian English)
Before I lost my sight, I was working: I was a driver, driving trucks, taxis and private
cars, but now I have no jobs… Lady (in Liberian English)
Plenty of people don’t have a job. They are suffering. Before, I had a business in
a building next to a motel but it has been destroyed by the rebels during the war. Besides gathering information, the interviewers
also help break down preconceptions about the nature of work and employment. Ericka D. Senkpeni, LFS supervisor
The Labour Force Survey is actually going to help to create more jobs because in the
villages, in the rural areas, people feel that if you are not sitting in an office you
are not employed. This Labour Force Survey tries to explain to them that once you have
your own business, you are employed. The Labour Force Survey explains to them that
if you are running your own farm and you are picking your produce and selling it, you are
employed, so it will encourage people to make farms, businesses etc.. A better understanding of the different types
of work in Liberia is the first step toward national policies that inspire employers to
create jobs, and reduce poverty. Nicholas Dikenah, LFS supervisor
Allowing Liberians for the first time to measure how many persons are working. If they are
not working: why are they not working? Is there something that needs to be done to better
their skills? Is there something that we need to put in place to employ most of the citizens?
Data are collected and sent here in the LISGIS office where 20 clerks are coding and entering
them into the Labour Force Survey database. An operation lasting for three months. The
results are revealing. Francis F. Wreh, LISGIS Survey Manager
Because we talk about the labour market indicators. The major thing is that this unemployment
rate has been unrealistic in Liberia, so we are going to use that to know exactly the
unemployment rate in the country and of course we have also to look at the formal and informal
sectors of the labour market to see who is working where. The survey is helping the government understand
the current true state of the labor market. For the first time, a clear picture of the
characteristics of the workforce, Liberian’s economic activities and working conditions,
is available. Two thirds of the workforce is in the “informal
economy” – selling goods on the streets or in the markets, or working in agriculture. Liberia is a “young” country – fully
half the population is under the age of 18 and only two out of ten working people over
the age of 15 are paid employees. The survey found that most of those young
people are relatively well educated. That’s a clear message to Liberia’s policy makers. Cole Bangalu, Regional Coordinator
The capacity of the workers, especially coming from a war situation needs to be built and
brought up at equal level with the employers and even with government (…)
That is how we are able to remedy the situation but quite frankly, as a result of the global
crisis it was really affecting employment in Liberia in general. Thanks to the interviewers and supervisors
who covered the country in 2010, Liberia’s government now has a firm statistical foundation
for policies that lead to job creation… and help the next generation move away from
informal work into paid employment, building Liberia’s emerging prosperity. International Labour Organization (ILO)