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Sri Lanka’s Official Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.3% in Q4 Amid Economic Expansion

Sri Lanka’s official unemployment rate declined to 4.3 percent in the final quarter of last year, down from 4.7 percent in the previous quarter, as the economy witnessed growth during the final three months, according to data released by the Census and Statistics Department.

The economy expanded at approximately three times the pace of the third quarter growth, marking a significant upturn. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) saw a notable increase, rising by 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year compared to 1.6 percent in the third quarter. This growth coincided with the country’s recovery from the foreign currency shortage crisis that reached a critical juncture in early 2022.

With Sri Lanka now generating US$825 million monthly from both remittances and tourism, the worst of the economic crisis seems to be in the past. Individuals who had remained sidelined due to the pandemic-induced economic disruptions and subsequent crises over the past two years are beginning to find opportunities in the labor market.

While many companies had previously laid off staff or halted hiring, signs of economic recovery are prompting them to resume hiring activities. However, the significant migration of professionals over the past two years may lead to talent shortages as companies seek to rehire.

An official unemployment rate of 4.3 percent suggests near full employment and indicates tight labor market conditions.

Meanwhile, the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), which measures the proportion of people employed and actively seeking work, decreased to 47.1 percent by the end of the fourth quarter of last year, down from 48.8 percent in the third quarter and 49.8 percent in 2022.

In comparison, the Labour Force Participation Rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries stands above 60 percent.

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