Sierra Leone: employment “returns to pre-Ebola levels”

16 Jun 15

Employment in Sierra Leone has returned to pre-Ebola crisis levels, but pay and the amount of working hours remain lower, a World Bank survey has found.

The poll, which was undertaken by Statistics Sierra Leone, contacted a sample of 1,715 households last month, which represents 41% of the 4,199 households covered in a Labour Force Survey conducted in July and August 2014, before the peak of the outbreak.
Findings from the mobile-phone survey showed that employment in the West African country rebounded to the levels last seen in the initial survey.
“This is particularly good news in Freetown, which has seen a 9% point decline in employment at the height of the outbreak in November 2014,” the report said.
Although people are going back to work, their hours and earnings were still low, especially in urban areas.
“For the nearly one-third of Sierra Leone’s workforce operating non-farm household enterprises, revenues remain markedly lower than in July and August 2014,” the report continued.
It added that agriculture was showing positive signs as the new planting season begins. Yields for the 2014 harvest were comparable to previous harvests, and the accompanying sales and hiring of seasonal labour indicated that rural commodity and temporary labour markets are returning to normal.
Ebola has infected more than 12,900 people since the outbreak began in the country, and more than 3,900 have died, according to recent estimates from the World Health Organisation.
But Francis Ato Brown, World Bank manager for Sierra Leone, said the country was working tirelessly to get to zero cases of Ebola.
“Our job has to be not only to support the country in eradicating Ebola, but also to look toward economic recovery and toward mitigating the short-, medium-, and long-term impacts of the crisis on the social and economic wellbeing of all Sierra Leoneans,” he said.
The survey also highlighted that the use of social services continued to increase, with maternal health care service utilization in particular was showing signs of improvement.
A majority of school-aged children have also returned to school, the survey showed. Of the households surveyed, 87% said at least one child was attending school.
However, the bank said the impact of Ebola was expected to linger well into the future, meaning that the economic recovery would hinge on understanding which sectors and groups need the most support to get back on their feet.
  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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