Ana Natsvlishvili:The unemployment rate in Georgia is at a historic high.
Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Ana Natsvlishvili’s statement is a LIE.
Resume: In the years of the pandemic (2020-2021), the unemployment level increased by three percentage points in total. In 2021, the unemployment rate in Georgia was 20.6% which is higher compared to unemployment figures in 2018-2020, although it lags behind the numbers of 2010-2017.
In regard to the employment rate, the number of employed individuals was 1,217,400 in 2021 which is 78,500 less compared to the period before the pandemic. Although the employment figure sharply decreased, it is higher as compared to the figures for 2010-2013.
Therefore, Ana Natsvlishvili’s statement that the unemployment rate is at a historic high is a LIE.
MP from the Lelo for Georgia political party, Ana Natsvlishvili, stated: “The unemployment rate in Georgia is at a historic high. Leaving aside the way in which the unemployment rate is calculated – if you work two days per month you are no longer considered unemployed – even based on this erroneous methodology the unemployment rate is at a historic high.”
Firstly, the methodology needs to be clarified. The National Statistics Office of Georgia is in charge of the compilation of the statistics vis-à-vis the workforce in the country and the statistics are in turn based on the methodology of the International Labour Organisation. In accordance with the methodology of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, a person 15 years of age and over is considered unemployed if he was not employed during the period of the survey (seven days prior to the survey) and was actively looking for a job in the past four weeks. A person of 15 years of age and over is considered employed if he worked for at least one hour in order to get labor remuneration or other profit in the seven days before the survey and a person is also considered employed if he was not present at his job place during the survey period (because of holidays, illness or other similar reasons).
The unemployment rate (percentage figure) is measured by the unemployed people to the workforce ratio. We would like to further clarify that the workforce (the economically active population) is the total sum of employed and unemployed (who are looking for a job) people. An individual who does not work and at the same time is not looking for a job (was not seeking employment in the four weeks prior to the survey) drops out of the workforce and is no longer considered unemployed.
Unemployment has indeed been and is one of the country’s biggest challenges during the years of the pandemic (2020-2021), employment parameters deteriorated sharply, something which was not only a side effect of the pandemic but was largely attributable to the government’s policy such as stringent and lengthy economic restrictions. In 2020, the number of employed individuals decreased sharply and the unemployment rate increased correspondingly. This negative trend continued in the first and second quarters of 2021. In the second half of 2021, employment figures started to improve in light of the relaxation of economic restrictions, although full recovery of lost jobs during the pandemic could not be achieved. In 2020-2021, the unemployment rate increased by three percentage points in total. In 2021, the unemployment rate in Georgia was 20.6% which is higher compared to similar figures both in 2020 and 2018-2019. However, it is still less compared to the unemployment rate in 2010-2017. Therefore, the claim that the unemployment rate is at a historic high is not true.
There were 316,200 unemployed individuals (job-seekers) in 2021. The number of unemployed individuals has increased as compared to 2018-2020, although it is lower as compared to the figures of the previous years.
When speaking about workforce statistics, the employment figure definitely needs to be analyzed because the decrease in the unemployment rate can in some cases be caused by a dwindling workforce, without a real increase in the number of employed individuals. Technically, the lowest unemployment rate (17.6%) was registered in 2019 which was largely the result of a decrease in the economically active population instead of growing employment.
The highest number of employed individuals was registered in 2015 and in the following year (2016-2019) this number decreased by 12,600 in total. In 2020-2021, the number of employed individuals dropped by 78,500 as compared to the pre-pandemic period. In 2021, there were 1,217,400 employed individuals. Despite the fact that the employment rate has shrunk drastically, it is still higher as compared to 2010-2013 and, therefore, it is not at a historic low.
Graph 1: Employment/Unemployment Figures in 2010-2021
Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia