Harmonizing of labour force surveys for regional integration

The national statistical offices of the five countries have embarked on an ILO project to produce a harmonized series of key labour market indicators from their Labour Force Surveys.

News | 03 March 2008
PORT OF SPAIN (ILO News) - New statistical indicators to measure the movement of people in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy are to be considered for inclusion in the next labour force surveys of five Caribbean countries. The five countries are The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

This was one of the recommendations made at an International Labour Organization Technical Meeting on Harmonization of Labour Force Suveys held on 3-5 March 2008 in Trinidad and Tobago for the five participating countries. Representatives of employers' organizations and trade unions along with representatives of national statistical offices were present to review questionnaires, and make recommendations for revisions and the implementation of revisions to the surveys. The recommendations are to be forwarded to the Directors of participating national statistical offices for final approval.

The national statistical offices of the five countries have embarked on an ILO project to produce a harmonized series of key labour market indicators from their Labour Force Surveys. In addition, the surveys will be expanded to include the measurement of the informal sector, informal employment and underemployment - a relatively new area of measurement for the region.

"The 25th and 26th meetings of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians emphasized the requirement for harmonization of statistics in the region to monitor and evaluate the performance of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy and the Caribbean Court of Justice," said Dave Clement, Assistant Director, Central Statistical Office, Trinidad and Tobago at the opening of the meeting. "The success of the programme of harmonization of Labour Force Surveys is important in providing momentum to the regional commitment and serving as a working model and best practice methodology for harmonization of other subject areas of statistics."

This ILO project began in November 2007 following the endorsement of the 32nd. CARICOM Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians held in Suriname on 5-7 November 2007. It builds on the work already undertaken by the ILO under the Caribbean Labour Market Information System (CLMIS) Project funded by the United States Department of Labor from 2002-2005.

"The harmonization of six employment-related statistical concepts marks a major step towards joint approaches that will help to reduce costs and achieve synergies, said Mary Read, Deputy Director, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean. "These concepts are population, working age population, employment, unemployment, time-related underemployment and informal employment. "

"In July 2007, CARICOM Heads of Government issued a Declaration at their 28th Conference in Barbados which focused on functional cooperation. They recognized the importance of working ...'towards the creation of regional labour market information systems to facilitate the identification of employment opportunities across the region.' " This Project, involving ILO, CARICOM Secretariat and five national statistical offices, marks an attempt to respond to this challenge.