Vietnamese laborers lack good jobs, ILO reports

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Employment numbers are improving in Vietnam, but laborers are still having trouble finding decent work, said a report issued recently by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Looking at the employed population, several trends were mentioned by the Vietnam Employment Trend study. Vietnam is still very much a rural country, despite having several large cities, and thus, agriculture remains the most important economic sector.

However, the proportion of total employment accounted for by the sector receded by about 13 percentage points between 1997 and 2007 to about 52 percent of total employment. Some 23.8 million people were working in the agricultural sector in 2007.

This also implies that there has been growth in the industrial sectors of the country, with percentage gains in manufacturing, construction, and much of the services sector, said the report.

However, the rural nature of the country and the still heavy dependence on agriculture means that a very large proportion of total employment is self-employed or involved in unpaid family work. Taken together, somewhere between two-thirds and three-fourths of total employment in 2007 was in these two categories, which translates into a very high degree of total employment that is vulnerable, that is, at risk of lacking decent work.

The lack of productive employment is reflected in the large numbers of manual employees, which totaled 28.1 million persons in 2007, or 62 percent of total employment. Only one other group accounted for more than 10 percent of the total employed, that being skilled craft occupations, with 12.5 percent.

Data for Vietnam are collected for four categories: wage and salaried workers, employers, self-employed workers, and unpaid family workers.

Looking at the 2007 employment proportions, men had about two percentage points higher proportions of wage-and-salary employment than women, 23.6 versus 21.4 percent.

An interesting comparison is among the self-employed, where the male proportion of over 43 percent was markedly above the women’s of nearly 25 percent. Therefore, the dichotomy was reversed among unpaid family workers. Over 53 percent of all employed women were unpaid workers in the family business, compared with 32 percent of male workers.

This woman’s proportion is noteworthy because it means quite explicitly that more than half of all employed women in Vietnam did not receive earnings for the work they performed. What is not known is the extent of the family income derived from their work, said the report.

Reported by Bao Van

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