In what might reveal the dire situation Zimbabwean employees found themselves in last year, at least 13 percent of the employed persons did not receive any income in May from their main jobs, according to data from the 2019 Labour Force Report.
The 2019 Labour Force Report (2019 LFCLS) shows that 50 percent of all employed persons earned incomes that were in the range of $1 to $200.
In 2019, $200 could buy 100 loaves of bread. As of this week, the lowest paid civil servant’s salary minus allowances would buy less than 100 loaves of bread although after including the Covid-19 allowances, one can afford to buy at least 164 loaves.
While the 2019 LFCLS data referenced to May 2019 income, two months later in July 2019, the poverty datum line (TCPL) for one person stood at $324,00 indicating that the majority of the workers were poor.
The Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for an average of five persons per household stood at $1 617,00 in July 2019. (The May 2019 PDL was not available).
The poverty datum line, which includes the TCPL represents the cost of a given standard of living that must be attained if a person is deemed not to be poor.
According to the 2019 LFCLS, only 3 percent of all males and 1 percent of females earned above $ 3 000, last year.
Meanwhile, the 2019 LFCLS estimated the total number of employed persons in 2019 stood at 2,9 million with at least 1,1 million of these self-employed.
About 34 percent of all employed persons were found in the informal sector while the formal sector accounted for 32 percent of employed persons.
The largest proportion of all employed persons (34,2 percent) was in the household sector.
Zimstat includes casual workers and unpaid family workers working for at least 15 hours a week (or 60 hours a month) as part of the employed workforce.
“60 percent were working as employees to other persons or organisations while the least category was the contributing family worker with less than 1 percent.”
The highest proportion of 45 percent of the employed persons was under the private-non financial institutional sector followed by the household 15 percent and central Government 15 percent sectors.
Thirty-six percent of the employed population were in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector followed by those employed in the retail trade sector at 17 percent.
The majority of the employed persons at 29 percent held elementary occupations such as manufacturing labourers, farm labourers, messengers among others followed by skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers with about 20 percent. Service and sales workers were at 17,7 percent.
Women dominated men in only 5 out of the 23 sectors namely, retail trade, accommodation and food service activities, human health and social work, education and private domestic work. In the construction, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply activities and transportation and storage sectors, 9 in 10 of the employed persons were males.
Low employment levels
The Employment to Population Ratio (EPR), which refers to the proportion of a country’s working — age population that is employed was at 35,8 percent, according to the 2019 LFCLS.
A high ratio means that a large proportion of a country’s population is employed while a low ratio means that a large share of the population is not directly involved in market-related activities, by virtue of either being unemployed or being outside the labour force.
The female EPR was 29 percent compared to 44 percent for males while EPR for males was higher than that of females in all provinces.
Harare had the highest EPR (55 percent) followed by Bulawayo (46 percent) while Matabeleland North had the lowest at 18 percent.
The national EPR was lower for the age groups 15-19 years as well as 65 years and above. It was higher in the broad age group 30-54 years.
Not highly educated
or skilled after all
At the national level, 54 percent of the employed population had lower secondary (Form 1-4) as their highest level of education attended while a quarter of the employed population had primary as their highest level attended.
Only 5 percent attended higher national diploma or Bachelor’s level. The majority of about 84 percent of employed persons did not specialise in any field. The field of education had the largest population compared to other fields at about five percent. For males, the largest proportion of the population was specialised in engineering, manufacturing and construction field at (3,7 percent) followed by social sciences, business and law (3,6 percent).