By ETimes

The number of employed persons in Zimbabwe is now estimated at 3.3 million but at sampling design stage the margin of error was set at 5% giving 95% confidence with regards to survey indicators, according to data from Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), released on Wednesday.

The last survey was conducted in the second quarter of 2019 and ZimStat noted that they will continue dishing out quarterly labour force surveys with trend analysis starting once there is comparable data. Methodologies being used restrict ZimStat to quarterly surveys as they are not yet in a position of doing it on a monthly basis.

In its 2021 third quarter Quarterly Labour Force Survey, ZimStat revealed that employed males were about 1.9 million while employed females at 1.4 million. Employment population ratio, by definition which has been the proportion of the employed to the working age population, stood at 37.3%.

However, it was more for males at around 46.5% against females at around 29.2%. This shows the absorption rate of the labor market or the rate at which our economy is creating employment.

Source: ZimStat

Experts say a higher rate might not necessarily mean that the country is performing well but it needs to be interrogated further. In some cases it could imply that it would be a sign of limited education options for the young generation to the extent that they will join the labour market at a very young age.

On employment population ratio by province, the country’s biggest city Harare had the highest of around 52.4% followed by Bulawayo at 41% and least was Mat North at 26.3%. Employment population ratio by age group and sex was lower at young ages and old ages. Its higher in middle ages starting from the 30-34 age group where it is around 52.6% to around the 52-59 age group where it is around 59%.

The survey shows that 26% of the employed persons are in the formal sector – non agriculture while 45.6% were in the informal sector non-agriculture. The southern African nation’s economy is expected to be boosted by the good agricultural season since agriculture is the backbone of the economy. As an independent sector, Agriculture contributed about 24%, private households 5% to total employment.


A higher proportion of employed persons are in Harare province at around 23.2% followed by Mash East at 12.5%. Again Mat North came bottom at 3.4%.

The Industry, insurance activities were lucrative as they had the highest average income during the month of July at around ZWL$90 000, followed by non-governmental organisations just above ZWL$70 000.

Majority of the employed persons are in the elementary occupation – mostly the laborers at 27%. Service and sales workers (vendors) came in at 22.6%.

According to survey findings, 45.6% of the employed persons were working in the informal sector meaning to say they were working in establishments that were not registered. During stiff Covid-19 induced lockdowns the government only allowed fully registered entities to operate as a way of ensuring those not registered will come on board and become eligible to access loans from banks in order to grow their business. The highest proportion were in wholesale, motor vehicle repairs and manufacturing.


ZimStat looked at employees to see if their employer contributes to pensions. Entitled to paid sick leave, annual leave, written contract if someone was not having those criteria he or she was considered as informally employed. The survey obtained that close to 70% of the employed population were informally employed with the wholesale and retail sector contributing to the majority of the persons who were informally employed at around 30%.

Unemployment rate using the strict definition was estimated at 18% for persons at 15 years and above. The youth 15-24 years their unemployment was estimated at 31%. As for 15-34 years the survey obtained an unemployment rate of 24.3%. On unemployment by province, the country’s second largest city Bulawayo had the highest unemployment rate of 28.5% followed by Mat North at 21.9% and Midlands at 21.1%.

Most of the companies who were headquartered in Bulawayo migrated to Harare where most of the key economic decisions are made. As a result, it crippled Bulawayo which was the hub of industries in the country talking of NRZ, National Blankets just to mention a few. As for Midlands, the defunct Ziscosteel was at the heart of the province. When it operated, it created thousands of jobs through feeder companies and distribution centres hence it was like a chain. It last fully operated around 2006.


The unemployment numbers come just a few days before the national budget, to be delivered by finance minister Mthuli Ncube on November 25.

Ncube is expected to outline efforts to right the country’s currency conundrum, as well as provide an update on structural reforms meant to unlock investment in the economy to lift growth and create jobs.

Experts say the recovery has only been partial as employment level has not reached the pre-pandemic level thereby contributing to increasing poverty in the country.

“If Zimbabwe is to create jobs, it may need to entrust professionals in public institutions to actually do their work,” an economist said-HARARE

Key findings from the 2021 third quarter Quarterly Labour Force Survey:

•             Total number of employed persons was estimated at 3.3 million.
•             Unemployment rate using the strict definition was estimated at 18 percent.
•             Expanded unemployment rate was estimated at 47 percent.
•             Share of formal (non-agriculture) sector employment was estimated at 26 percent.
•             Share of employment in the informal (non-agriculture) sector was estimated at 47 percent.
•             Share of employment in the household sector was estimated at 5 percent.
•             Share of employment in the agriculture sector was estimated at 27 percent



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