Azerbaijan debates unemployment rate: is it 5%, 14% or 20%?
New data about unemployment in Azerbaijan has just been released, and the numbers are far from the “official statistics.”
Independent experts say that the way Azerbaijan calculates unemployment rates is fundamentally misguided.
The Chairman of the Committee on Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship Ziyad Samadzade says that the unemployment rate in Azerbaijan has been cut almost in half: from 40-45% to just 14%.
The agency Trend quoted Samadzade, but did not specify over what period this fall in unemployment took place. Other sources say that it occurred over the last 27-28 years, starting from the year Azerbaijan gained independence. These sources interpret Samadzade’s words quite differently. The site Oxu.az claims that he calculated the rate at 5-6%.
President Ilham Aliyev himself said the number was 5% in March.
This is not the first time that the official unemployment statistics differed from the data collected by independent experts, who say the numbers are grossly underestimated.
A person is considered unemployed if they have actively sought work in the last four weeks (from the time that the data was taken). What constitutes an “active search” is not specified, and it can be interpreted many ways.
In addition, a person is considered employed if they have any work at all and receive a paycheck, even if it is just an hour a week.
If a person it not employed anywhere, but is not looking for work, then by the generally accepted calculation method (used by the International Labor Organization) they are not counted among the unemployed.
Economist Togrul Mashally considers this method unreliable and says it leaves too much “room for interpretation.” His own calculations, derived from data given by the Azerbaijan Statistical Committee, put the 2018 unemployment rate in Azerbaijan at around 20%.