The follow-up Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2022 for Lebanon is “the product of a partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Central Administration of Statistics (CAS) of Lebanon. It was conducted by CAS in 2022 with the financial and technical assistance of the ILO, Regional Office for Arab States”.
The follow-up Labour Force Survey “provides up-to-date estimates of a broad array of labour market and demographic indicators concerning the residents of Lebanon at the national and governorate levels. In view of the more than challenging socio-economic situation in Lebanon, reliable survey results are of critical importance to enable the real impact of the crisis on the labour market to be quantified and understood and to inform evidence-based policies and response strategies”.
In addition, the “sample for the follow-up survey consisted of all the households that reported a valid telephone number, whether landline or mobile, in the fourth quarter round of the previous survey, the Labour Force and Housing Living Conditions Survey (LFHLCS), carried out by CAS between 2018 and 2019 with funding from the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon. The data for the follow-up LFS were collected in January 2022. The effective sample size was 5,444 households, with a total of 22,046 household members (representing an average household size of about 4.07 persons) and including both Lebanese and non-Lebanese residents”.
The follow-up survey questionnaire “maintained the basic structure of the previous survey, but was adapted for telephone interviewing, and incorporated additional questions and specific answer categories to measure the impact of the main events that occurred in Lebanon during the period 2019-2021: the October 2019 Revolution; the total lockdown in response to COVID-19 in mid-March 2020: and the Port of Beirut blast in August 2020. It included the following themes: demographic characteristics (description of household members, nationality, education, and access to health insurance); labour force status; main job characteristics; job search; previous employment status; household income; and intention to migrate”.
The survey presents “estimates disaggregated by governorate, covering the eight governorates (Beirut, Mount Lebanon, North Lebanon, Akkar, Bekaa, Baalbek-Hermel, South Lebanon and Nabatieh)”. The main findings are presented below:
The national labour force participation rate (LFPR) “has declined by more than five percentage points, from 48.8 per cent in 2018-2019 to 43.4 per cent in 2022. The male participation rate was 66.2 per cent, significantly higher than the female rate of 22.2 per cent. Between 2018-19 and 2022, the labour force participation rate for both males and females decreased for all age groups and in all governorates, with the possible exception of Baalbek-Hermel, where it has remained more or less unchanged: 43.3 per cent in 2018-2019 and 43.9 per cent in 2022. The greatest decrease in the labour force participation rate was in Beirut governorate, where it has fallen by about 10 percentage points, from 52.5 per cent in 2018-2019 to 43 per cent in 2022”.
As to the “employment-to-population ratio, often used as an indicator of the performance of the national economy in providing employment to its population, stood at 30.6 per cent in 2022, more than ten percentage points lower than the 43.3 per cent recorded in 2018-2019. The ratio was higher for males (47.4. per cent) than for females (15 per cent), and lower for youth (17.9 per cent) than for adults (34.2 per cent)”.
According to the survey findings, “the unemployment rate increased from 11.4 per cent in 2018-2019 to 29.6 per cent in 2022, indicating that almost one third of the labour force was unemployed in January 2022. The female unemployment rate (32.7 per cent) was somewhat higher than the male rate (28.4 per cent), while the youth unemployment rate (47.8 per cent) was almost twice the adult rate (25.6 per cent). At the governorate level, the unemployment rate increased in all governorates without exception. The largest increase was in Baalbek-Hermel, where it rose by a staggering 30 percentage points, from 11 per cent in 2018-2019 to 40.7 per cent in 2022. This was followed by South Lebanon, where the rate increased by 24 percentage points, from 12.3 per cent in 2018-2019 to 36.5 per cent in 2022”.
In addition to unemployment, “the unmet needs for employment are reflected in other indicators of labour underutilization. The January 2022 data show that, when time-related underemployment is taken into account, the combined rate of time-related underemployment and unemployment reached 43.2 per cent. The combined rate of unemployment and potential labour force was 38.1 per cent. The composite measure of labour underutilization, which includes all three elements – unemployment, time-related underemployment and potential labour force – increased enormously, from 16.2 per cent in 2018-2019 to 50.1 per cent in 2022, indicating that about half of the labour force and the potential labour force in Lebanon was underutilized in some form or other in 2022. The highest rate of labour underutilization was among the youth population (15-24 years old), for whom the composite measure of labour underutilization was 64.2 per cent (compared with 29.4 per cent in 2018-2019), and among women, for whom it was 57.1 per cent (compared with 21.3 per cent in 2018-2019)”.
According to the survey findings also, in 2022, “about 29.6 per cent of the unemployed had been seeking employment for two years or more and another 19.2 per cent had been seeking employment for between one and two years. Thus, in total, about 48.8 per cent of the unemployed were in long-term unemployment in 2022”.
The data collected on employment characteristics also covers the branch of economic activity. Between 2018-19 and 2022, “the basic structure of employment remained essentially unchanged. The branch of economic activity with the highest share of employment remains wholesale and retail trade (between 19 and 20 per cent), followed by public administration and defense (between 10 and 12 per cent) and manufacturing (between 10 and 12 per cent)”.
Furthermore, “the distribution of the employed population by occupation category at main job is also observed on the basis of the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08). For men, the largest change in the share of employment occurred in the occupation group “managers”, which dropped from 7.8 per cent in 2018-2019 to 2.5 per cent in 2022. By contrast, the share of male employment of “technicians and associate professionals” increased by 3.3 percentage points from 4.2 per cent in 2018-2019 to 7.5 per cent in 2022. In the case of women, the largest change in the share of employment occurred in “elementary occupations”, which fell drastically from 27.4 per cent in 2018-2019 to 13.6 per cent in 2022”.
In this follow-up labour force survey, “the distribution of the employed population by employment status is observed on the basis of International Classification of Status in Employment (ICSE-18). According to the findings, 74.5 per cent of the employed population was employees and 6.3 per cent were employers, 17 per cent were own-account workers and 1.4 per cent was contributing family workers. The survey results show that the basic structure of employment by sector of employment has remained essentially unchanged, with more than 90 per cent of the employed population engaged at main job in either the public sector or the private sector. Employment in the public sector was 12.4 per cent in 2018-2019 but reached 16.1 per cent of total employment in 2022”. The latter result is because most of the job losses, percentage-wise, were in the private sector.
The findings show that “employment in the informal sector has increased by 13.1 percentage points, from 35.2 per cent in 2018-2019 to 48.3 per cent in 2022. Similarly, informal employment has increased by 7.5 percentage points, from 54.9 per cent in 2018-2019 to 62.4 per cent in 2022”.
The survey findings also “show that the average number of hours usually worked per week at main job of the employed population was 44.4 hours in 2022, considerably less than the corresponding figure of 48.5 hours in 2018-2019”.
The analysis of the data on income from employment in the report “is limited to cash earnings of employees at their main job, excluding remuneration in kind and services. According to the survey findings, the average monthly earnings of employees at their main job were about 2,284,100 Lebanese pounds (LBP) in 2022, slightly lower among male employees (about 2,205,600 LBP) than female employees (2,492,000 LBP)”. A surprising result!
The survey data “allowed the computation of the employees with low pay rate indicator which is one of the indicators of the ILO framework on decent work4 and thus an indicator of income inequality. As in LFHLCS 2018-2019, the calculations were also made for monthly rather than hourly earnings, and on the basis of the main job rather than all jobs. According to the survey findings, 23 per cent of employees were earning less than 1,066,700 LBP in 2022 (which corresponds to two thirds of the 1,600,000 LBP median monthly earnings of employees at their main job) and were thus considered to be low-pay workers. This compared with 21.8 per cent in 2018-2019”.
Lastly, the survey also “allows analysis of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET), which is an indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 8.6.1). According to the findings, almost one third of the female youth population was not in employment, education, or training in 2022 (32.1 per cent), a net increase from 2018-2019, when the NEET rate for young females was 26.8 per cent. A similar change can be observed in the case of the male youth population, for whom the NEET rate increased from 16.7 per cent in 2018-2019 to 26.1 per cent in 2022”.
The survey is a sobering report about the status of labor markets in Lebanon, which clearly shows that labor has suffered more unemployment, less pay, and worse prospects for good work. But these results were largely expected, and could have been perhaps much worse had outside employment was not available and remittances were not plentiful. And, of course, this is not the way to continue for the country; which makes the necessity for a reform and recovery plan ever more essential!
Main labour force and labour underutilization (LU) indicators, LFS 2022 (%)
Unemployment rate by governorate, LFHLCS 2018-2019 and LFS 2022 (%)