37% jobless in Myanmar, study finds

Street beggars in Yangon

In a first ever countrywide study the Myanmar government found that 37 per cent of the nation’s population are unemployed and an average of 26 per cent live in poverty. The study collected data on food, clothing and shelter at households in every state and region of the union.

A parliamentary planning and finance development committee has made part of the result of a survey on income and employment public in a rare move of transparency, news portal Eleven Myanmar reported on January 24.

The study found the highest poverty rates in Chin State (73 per cent), Rakhine State (44 per cent) and Shan State (33 per cent). The poverty rate was also above the national average of 26 per cent in Ayeyawady Region (32 per cent), Magway Region (27 per cent) and Mandalay Region (27 per cent). In Yangon the household poverty rate was 16 per cent, the survey found.

The study did not clarify what criteria were used to define poverty. According to the World Bank, extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 or $5 a day in purchasing power terms, meaning as how much local currency is needed to buy the same things the dollar amount could buy in the US.

The committee’s chairman, Soe Tha, said the study showed “how necessary it was for the government to focus on poverty reduction, and that it also identified where in the country people’s needs were greatest.”

“The survey underscores the need to create more jobs and where the need is most acute,” he added.

The study had also provided impetus for the government’s poverty reduction plan, which it planned to implement in 2015 or 2016, he said. 

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Arno Maierbrugger

Business journalist

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