Employment numbers continue decline

The ongoing coronavirus-led economic decline has led to a fourth consecutive quarter of negative employment growth in Samoa.

The negative growth since December 2019 is contained within a  Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) report released this week: “Employment Statistics for September 2020 Quarter.”

According to the report, it states the number of people formally employed in Samoa in the September quarter of this year decreased by 0.3 per cent.

(The September, or third quarter of the calendar year, is composed of the months between July and September). 

“This decline reflects the negative impact experienced by the country due to the ongoing global effects and national restrictions imposed due to the [COVID-19] (coronavirus) pandemic on the country, “the report reads.

The report explains the economic decline has wrought a negative impact on several industries such as accommodation services, restaurants, construction and transport businesses, and other services.

But despite the decline in employment numbers, wages and salaries for the period under review recorded a mild 0.4 per cent year-on-year increase when compared to the same quarter the year prior. 

In absolute terms that increase equates to total wages and salaries of $141.1 million in September 2019 rising to $141.7 million for the same period this year. 

The wage index (another measure of the growth in wages and salaries used by the Bureau) also increased by 0.8 per cent on a year-on-year basis. 

That increase was attributed mainly to the increase in wages paid out to employees working in industries such as public administration (15.5 per cent), finance services (13.5 per cent), other manufacturing (11.5 per cent) and education (8.1 per cent). 

But Samoa’s broader economic decline is attributed by the Bureau to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on normal business operations, which has led to unprecedented job losses and layoffs in some of the hardest-hit economic sectors.

During the period under review the measles epidemic also struck Samoa, resulting in a national state of emergency.

The accommodation (-44.5 per cent), restaurants (-16.3 per cent), construction (-5.3 per cent) and transport (-4.9 per cent) sectors all recorded respective declines in employment for the quarter on a yearly basis. 

But despite the decrease in employment, the quarter recorded an increase in taxes on income, profits and capital gains which grew by 4.2 per cent on a yearly basis. 

The total number of employees in the formal sector in the September 2020 quarter was 24,560; of which 56.9 per cent were males and 43.1 per cent were females. 

Males received the biggest share of 54 per cent of total wages in quarter; females received 46 per cent. 

The quarterly average wages for the September 2020 quarter amounted to $5,771. 

And despite receiving the largest share of total wages, men’s average wage was less than women’s, according to the Bureau’s data. 

Men’s quarterly average wages amounted to $5,481 while women were paid an average of $6,151.

In September 2020, the services sector remains the nation’s biggest employer accounting for 62.5 per cent of the total formal work force. 

Public administration as well remains the second biggest employer and accounts for some 24.4 per cent of employees in Samoa. 

The secondary sector (which relates to the refinement of raw materials) is the third biggest employer representing 11.9 per cent of employees, while 1.2 per cent are employed in the primary sector (which related to the production and extraction of raw materials). . 

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