Labour force in the Republic of Moldova: employment and unemployment in the 1st quarter of 2020
Labour force participation
According to the results of the Labour Force Survey (LFS)1, in the first quarter of 2020, the labour force (active population) of the Republic of Moldova, which includes the employed and unemployed population, was 840,5 thousand persons2, decreasing by 6,5% in comparison to the first quarter of 2019 (898,6 thousand).
Within the labour force, the share of men (52,0%) was higher in comparison to that of women (48,0%) and the share of economically active persons from the rural area was higher than the share of urban area (53,1% and 46,9% accordingly).
The labour force participation rate of the population aged 15 and over (the proportion of the labour force aged 15 and over in the total population of the same age category) was 39,1% (in 2019 – 41,3%). This indicator reached higher values among the male population – 43,5%, in comparison with the female one – 35,2%. In areas these rates recorded the following values: 46,4% in urban area and 34,3% in rural area.
In the age group of 15-29 years this indicator had the value of 28,8%, and in the category of 15-643 years – 46,0%. The value of this indicator for the population of working age according to the national legislation (16-58 years for women and 16-63 years for men) was 49,1%.
The employed population was 806,3 thousand persons, lower by 2,7% in comparison to the first quarter of 2019 (829,0 thousand). As in the case of the economically active population, no significant gender disparities were recorded (51,7% men and 48,3% women), and the share of employed persons from the rural area was higher than that of employed persons from the urban area (53,3% in rural area and 46,7% in urban area, accordingly).
The employment rate of the population aged 15 years and over (the proportion of employed persons aged 15 and over compared with the total population of the same age group) was 37,5%, slightly decreased in comparison to the level of the previous year (38,1% in 2019) (Figure 1). The employment rate of men (41,5%) was higher in comparison to that of women (34,0%). In the distribution by residence areas this indicator had the value of 44,4% in urban area and 33,0% in rural area. The employment rate of the population of working age (16-58 years for women and 16-63 years for men) was 47,0%, of the population aged 15-64 years – 44,1%, and in the age category 15-29 years this indicator recorded the value of 26,1%.
The analysis of employment rates by age groups reveals the greatest gender discrepancies in persons aged 55-64 years (for men the employment rate with 16,3 p. p. higher than for women) and in persons aged 25-34 - by residence areas (15,9 p. p. higher for persons employed from urban area) (Figure 2).
From the distribution of persons employed by economic activities it resulted that in the agricultural sector 153,0 thousand persons or 19,0%, out of the total employed persons, have worked (in 2019 - 156,4 thousand and 18,9% respectively).
In the non-agricultural activities there were employed 653,4 thousand persons, decreasing by 2,9% in comparison to the 1st quarter of 2019 (672,7 thousand). The share of persons employed in industry was 15,1% (in 2019 – 16,2%), including in the manufacturing 12,2% (SDG indicator 9.2.2) , and in constructions 5,3% (in 2019 – 5,5%). The number of persons employed in industry (121,5 thousand) decreased in comparison to the level of the respective quarter of last year (by 9,7%), and in constructions it amounted to 42,8 thousand, decreasing by 6,9% in comparison to 2019. In the services sector 489,1 thousand persons have worked, or 60,7% out of the total of employed persons, their number was in fact at the level of the 1st quarter of 2019 (in 2019 – 492,2 thousand) (Figure3).
In the distribution by form of ownership, 68,2% of the employed population worked in the private sector and 31,8% - in the public sector.
The structure of the employed population according to the status in employment reveals that the share of employees was 80,2% out of the total (646,3 thousand persons). The great majority of employees (90,7%) were employed for an unlimited duration.
The undeclared work4 among employees was 4,6%, it dropped in comparison to the level of the previous year (5,7% in the 1st quarter of 2019). The practice of employment without the concluding of the individual working contracts (based on verbal agreements) is more frequent among male employees (6,7%) than female employees (2,6%). The highest proportions of employees, who work based on verbal agreements only, were estimated in agriculture (52,7%), trade (17,9%), constructions (7,4%) and industry (7,3%).
In the informal sector 15,1% worked out of the total of persons employed in the economy (in 2019 – 15,8%), and 19,1% had an informal job (in 2019 – 21,1%). Out of the number of informally employed persons the percentage of employees were 20,1%. In the non-agricultural sector, the share of informal employment was 8,7% (SDG indicator 8.3.1) .
Out of the total of employees, 4,8% had an informal job. The salary "in envelope" was received by 5,1% employees, and the highest shares were estimated for the activities from agriculture (54,1%), trade (17,6%), constructions (5,7%) and industry (7,9%).
The number of underemployed persons5 (persons who had a job, whose number of hours actually worked, in total, during the reference period, was less than 40 hours per week, who wanted and were available to work overtime) was 34,9 thousand, which represented 4,3% out of the total of employed persons (analogous to the previous year).
Each 9th person employed (11,6%) stated that he/she wished to change the situation in relation to its current job for the reason the level of remuneration is not satisfactory (income-related inadequate employment situation).
The number of unemployed persons, estimated according to the definition of the International Labour Organization (ILO)5 was 34,2 thousand, significantly decreased in comparison to the level of the 1st quarter of 2019 (69,6 thousand). The unemployment has affected more men – 58,7% out of the total of unemployed persons from the urban area -50,8%6.
The unemployment rate (the share of ILO unemployed in the labour force) at the level of country recorded a value of 4,1%, lower than in the first quarter of 2019 (7,7%) (SDG indicator 8.5.2) . The unemployment rate for men was 4,6%, and -3,5% for women; in urban area – 4,4% and respectively, 3,8% in rural area. Among persons aged 15-24, the unemployment rate was 13,0%, and in the age group of 15-29 years this indicator had the value of 9,4%.
The unemployment rate is one of the 4 indicators of labour underutilization 5 implemented in statistical practice according to the ILO standard. Thus, in addition to LU1 – the unemployment rate, other three indicators that measure the discrepancies between the labour supply and labour demand (or underutilization) are: LU2 - the combined rate of time-related underemployment and unemployment; LU3 – the combined rate of unemployment and potential labour force; LU4 - the composite measure of labour underutilization. The quarterly evolution of labour force underutilization indicators, calculated for the Republic of Moldova, is provided in Figure 4.
The population outside the labour force
The population outside the labour force of 15 years and over, in the 1st quarter of 2020, was 1310,3 thousand persons or 60,9% out of the total population of the same age category, increasing by 2,6% in comparison to the 1st quarter of 2019 (1276,6 thousand and respectively, 58,7%). Within the inactive population, the largest share, over 44.3%, belongs to the category of pensioners. They are followed by the group of pupils and students (13,1%) and the group of family caring persons (housewives) (12,1%). Among other inactive persons there are those who do not work and do not seek for a job in Moldova, because they already have a job (permanent or seasonal) abroad, or who plan to work abroad (10,9%). Another group is formed by the persons (declared by households) as having gone abroad to work or looking for a job for a period of less than one year (9,2% or 120,2 thousand), the number of the latter increased by 28,5% in comparison to the first quarter of 2019 (respectively 93,6 thousand). The rest consists of other categories of population outside the labour force. The persons who have a job abroad or intend to go abroad and persons who are left abroad to work or looking for a job prevails among men (17,9% and 15,0% respectively for men in comparison to 5,6% and 4,7% respectively for women), and the family care activities are more characteristic for women (20,5% in comparison to 1,2% for men) (Figure 5).
The effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the labour market situation
COVID-19 began to affect the labour market towards the end of the first quarter of the year, when the state of emergency in the country was established (since March 17). Although this emergency situation covered (as a period of the quarter) only the last 2 weeks of March, the results of the LFS highlighted some new situations that have appeared in the labour market with the onset of this pandemic.
In the first quarter of 2020 the number of persons who stated that their situation at work was affected by COVID-19 was 33,2 thousand or 4,1% out of the total of employed population (3,7% for men and 4,6% for women). Among them8:
- the majority, 60,6%, are persons who have not worked at all/have been absent from the job (among men – 69,7% and among women 52,7%, respectively);
- 28,4% worked at home/worked remotely (among men-15,2% and among women 39,7%, respectively).
- 25.5% worked fewer hours per week (among men-20,4% and among women 30,0%);
- 8.0% were transferred to a part-time work programme (among men-7,1% and among women 8,8%, respectively).
The pandemic affected the situation at work to a greater extent in women than in men: in the structure by sex women were up to 53,7% and men 46,3% (while in the total employment, women were 48,3% and men 51,7%). The distribution on the residence areas of these persons is uniform: 50,5% belong to the urban area and 49,5% - to the rural area.
In the distribution according to age groups, the highest share belongs to young adults aged 25-34 years (36,3%), followed by persons aged 35-44 years (24,6%) and those aged 45-54 years (19,5%).
Temporary interruption of activity
The number of persons who had a job but did not work at all in the first quarter of 2020 increased twice in comparison to the first quarter of 2019. The share in total employment of such has increased from 2,4 in 2019 to 4,9% in 2020. The increase in the number of such persons was entirely caused by the restrictions imposed in connection with COVID-19. The allocation of persons by reason of absence is as follows:
- 34% did not work due to the cessation of activity at the unit they worked;
- 29% had to take their annual leave;
- 28% were on unpaid leave;
- 6% were in technical unemployed.
In comparison to the first quarter of 2019, the number of persons on unpaid leave increased by 3,5 times, in annual leave, by 2,9 times, those in technical unemployment by 1,6 times.
In the distribution by sex, out of the total number of persons who had a job but did not work because of the pandemic men were 53,2%, and respectively, women 46,8%. In the distribution by residence areas, urban localities made up 48,2% and rural ones 51,8% respectively.
According to age, the majority (40,7%) was the group of persons aged 25-34 years followed by the group of persons aged 35-44 years (25,1%).
Among persons who did not worked because of the pandemic, the absolute majority of 88% belongs to the employees (in total they made up 80%). The remaining 12% was made up of own account workers, who had to cease their activity.
From the distribution of absences from work, according to the economic activities, it resulted that higher shares were recorded in trade (27,3%), industry (24,8%), education (15,4%). Among men prevailed the activities of trade (32,8%) and manufacturing (23,6%). Among women, many absences were recorded in education (31,8%), manufacturing and trade (21% each).
At the same time, according to the types of absence, in the industry prevailed the unpaid leave- 66,3% (74,8% men) and the technical unemployment – 20,2% (24,8% women); in the trade prevailed the cessation of the activity – 55,5% (71% men) and, respectively, unpaid leave, 28,5% (36,2% women); in education – annual leaves with a share of 59,3% (57, 9% in women).
Working from home
The number of persons who worked from home in the first quarter of 2020 was 16,6 thousand persons, it increased by 2,5 times in comparison to the respective period of last year (6,75 thousand). The absolute majority of the increase (9,4 thousand or 96%) was due to the effects of restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Among them, almost every second person (49%) stated that the number of hours worked at home per week was 40 hours and more.
In the distribution by sex of persons working remotely, 75,2% are women and 24,8% are men. Significant disparities on residence areas were not recorded: 51,4% belong to the urban area and 48,6% to the rural area.
Depending on the age, 2 out of 5 persons are 25-34 years old, and every fifth person is either in the 35-44 age group or in the 45-54 age group.
In the distribution of these persons according to economic activities, the majority, 54.7%, is formed by workers from the field of education, followed by the workers from professional, scientific and technical activities with 18,1% and those in trading with 12,0%.
COVID - 19 also changed the usual patterns in relation to the actual length of the working week. Thus, among those who stated that their situation at work was affected by the pandemic, 86,1% worked less than 40 hours a week or did not work at all. While among the persons who did not suffer from the epidemiological situation this indicator is 2,7 times lower, making up to 32,4% (in the first quarter of 2019 was 35,2%).
The persons who worked fewer hours a week because of the pandemic invoked the same reasons as the persons who did not work at all: technical unemployment and cessation of the activity of the unit.
The number of persons who worked part-time in the first quarter of 2020 was 51,1 thousand or 6,3% out of total employment. Out of these, 5,2 percent stated that they switched to partial working schedule because of the pandemic, the main reasons were the lack of customers or orders and the transfer from the employer's initiative to such a working schedule.
Among the persons who switched to the partial working schedule, because of the pandemic, there were recorded discrepancies by sex and areas. Thus, the share of men in the total of such persons was 41% and respectively, 59% of women; the urban area recorded 35,6% and the rural area, 64,4% respectively.
Analogous to other pandemic situations, the persons who switched to part-time work are from the age group of 25-34 years and 35-44 years (39,8% and 30,9%, respectively).
- Annexes (8 tables .xls)
1 Selective statistical survey on households of the population. The methodology is available on the website www.statistica.gov.md in the section: Metadata / Statistical methodologies / Methodology on the household labour force survey.2 The data is presented without the territory from the left side of Dniester and Bender mun.3 The working age in European Union countries according to Eurostat methodology.4 Undeclared work - undeclared work means any work performed by an individual for and under the authority of an employer without respecting the provisions of the Labour Code regarding the working contract.5 Details: Labour Force Survey Methodology. Concepts and definitions.6 The number of unemployed persons officially registered at the National Employment Agency on April 1, 2020 was 18,1 thousand persons.7 NEET - young persons who are not in employment education/or training in the formal education system and do not participate in any way at courses or other trainings outside the formal education system (from English language Persons Not in Employment, Education or Training).
8 A person can find itself in one or more situations.
- Statistical data bank / Social Statistics / labour force and earnings / LFS-Employment and unemployment, 2016-2019 (based on usual resident population)
- Concepts and definitions / Labour force
- Reference metadata / Labour Force Survey. Main indicators
- Calendar for electronic dissemination of statistical information in 2020