“400,000 new jobs created”: True or false?

Several attractive advertisements have appeared in popular newspapers in recent times, claiming that “more than 400,000 jobs have been created” (presumably) during the past two years of this Government.

In that regard, the information and data contained in the Annual Reports of the Central Bank for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 (published after the Yahapalanaya Government came in to power), can be examined in order to ascertain the veracity of the above claim. The data relevant to this claim is contained in ‘Chapter 4: Prices, Wages, Employment and Productivity’ of the respective Central Bank Annual Reports, and the comparative figures are set out in Table 1.

In the Central Bank Annual Report 2015(AR 15), it is reported that the ‘Number Employed’ at end 2014 was 8,424,000, and that such number had increased to 8,554,000 by end 2015. However, in the Central Bank Annual Report of 2016 (AR 16), it is reported that the ‘Number Employed’ at end 2015 was 7,831,000, and not 8,554,000. Accordingly, the ‘Number Employed’ as at end 2015 as per AR 16 had inexplicably and mysteriously reduced by a massive 723,000 when compared with the same item as reported in AR 15! AR 16 also placed the ‘Number Employed’ at end 2016 at 7,948,000, and on that basis stated that there had been an ‘increase’ of 1.5% over the 2015 figure of 7,831,000!

When considering these contradictory statements, it seems clear that the authorities have revised previously announced absolute numbers in a highly unprofessional and inexplicable manner to somehow “show” an “increase” in the number of jobs created during the year. After a political party has commenced a publicity campaign to take credit for this fictitious “increase” in the “jobs created” via the obvious manipulation of the numbers, that suspicion has grown even stronger.

Notwithstanding this dubious attempt at manipulation, the proverbial slip seems to be showing! Although careful adjustments seem to have been made to the ‘Numbers Employed’ as at end 2015 in AR 16, the authorities have not adjusted or revised the ‘Number Employed’ as stated as at end 2014 (which therefore, remains unchanged). Hence, the ‘Number Employed’ at end 2014, technically remains unchanged at 8,424,000 leading to the result that the ‘Number Employed’ had actually reduced drastically from 8,424,000 to 7,948,000: a decrease of 476,000 jobs in just two years!

It would need to be appreciated by the authorities who are responsible for compiling and reporting this type of data, that by their submission of incredulous and arbitrary data, strong suspicions have been aroused in the minds of many stakeholders about the integrity of the economic data released by them. Such suspicions have been further fuelled when desperate attempts are being made by a political party to exploit these dubious figures of fictionally-created jobs to boost its falling image as a result of scandalous bond scams, soaring public debt, rising interest rates, falling foreign reserves, rapidly depreciating currency, listless FDIs, rising cost-of-living, stagnant stock market, unconscionable levies/taxes, historically low business confidence levels and plunging international rankings.

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