Big holes in Vietnam’s 1.9 pct unemployment rate

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Home businesses and self-employment, jobs that don't pay insurance or pensions, now account for three fourths of Vietnam's employment rate. Photo courtesy of Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online

Vietnam calculated its unemployment rate at 1.9 percent late last year, a figure that included many well-qualified young people who had been jobless for more than a year. 
The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said 900,000 people of labor-age were unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2013, up 5.6 percent year on year, according a report by Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon (Saigon Times) Online.
Nguyen Ba Ngoc, deputy director of the Institute of Labor Science and Social Affairs, said that although the average rate is among the world’s lowest, it shouldn't be good news as vulnerable work like home businesses or self-employment, which do not offer pensions or insurance, account for three fourths of the employment structure.
Ngoc said Vietnam’s survey and assessment system needs improving to give a better picture of the situation.
He said current standards count a person who has a job for even one hour before being surveyed as employed. 
“That leads to the incorrect reflection of the labor market situation,” he said.
The figures were released at a Hanoi press conference last week. The ministry’s first edition of quarterly labor report said the unemployment rate in young people (between 15-24 years of age) is around threefold the average rate and people with college degrees and technical expertise around fourfold.
The high unemployment rate among the qualified group was blamed on either their pickiness or on the fact that their training did not suit market demands.
Nearly 45 percent of the unemployed are “long-term” cases, defined as having no job for more than a year.
Ngoc said a person unemployed for a short term – like from several weeks to several months – has a better ability to reintegrate into the labor market, while the long-term unemployed often begin to have problems with their social relationships.
He said the high long-term unemployment rate could be unsettling the country's social orders, possibly increasing the rates of crime.
The report forecasts more employment opportunities this year in several sectors including manufacturing, construction, retail, hospitality and dining services.

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