The unemployed population is defined as the people aged 10 years and older who could be economically active but were not employed or were still looking for employment during the 12 months prior to the Census. Table 7 clearly shows to what part of the population the unemployment rate refers. In 2005 the people who indicated that they were unemployed amounted to 1.4% of the economically active population of the Lao PDR.

The relevant map shows two indicators of unemployment. First we can see a distribution of dots, where every dot represents five unemployed people.  The second indicator is a different colour for each village, representing the percentage of the unemployed village population. We can distinguish five frequency classes with the lowest percentage in the lightest colour representing less than 0.5% unemployment while a pronounced violet shows the highest percentage class with unemployment exceeding 2%. Using these two different indicators we can see that in some villages there is a large number of unemployed people (many dots), even if the rate of unemployment is quite low (a light colour). This can be explained by the fact that a low rate multiplied by a high total population still results in a considerable number of unemployed people. Conversely, a small village – even if it has a high unemployment rate – will not produce as many unemployed people.

In general terms, Map G.4 shows that unemployment is a phenomenon which is still largely limited to urban and peri-urban areas around the provincial capitals.  Exceptions to this overall pattern can be found in Khammuane and Xayaboury provinces, in Xaysomboune Special Zone, and in some southern provinces, where unemployment rates climb to above 2%. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that some of these villages are very small and the absolute numbers shown as dots may be better indicators than village unemployment rates. 

Even if economic centres offer a greater number and variety of jobs, these may not match with the profile of job seekers. Many of the uneducated people in urban areas are unable to find work. One of the reasons for people moving from rural areas to towns is the hope of having better access to services and find better work opportunities. Yet, people frequently lack the necessary training, so they are unable to find work. The mountainous north of the country offers only limited employment opportunities.

To conclude it should be recalled that the Lao PDR has a lower unemployment rate than other countries in Southeast Asia. However, this rate is also very small because many people are involved in the agricultural sector, many as subsistence farmers (see Map G.6). In terms of employment outside agriculture, this rate would clearly be higher. Therefore unemployment represents a challenge for the Government of the Lao PDR, specifically for the development planners and policy makers who must pay particular attention to the provision of enough employment and developing a skilled labour force in each part of the country so as to be able to respond to the labour demands from other countries



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