June 18, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s industrial sector has lost 96,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2009 with the apparel workers losing 60,000 jobs and construction workers losing 36,000 jobs, according to a government survey.
But Fernando said the change was not statistically significant.
The latest data includes Sri Lanka’s Eastern province, but not the Northern province. The Northern Province was completely freed from separatist Tamil Tiger control in May.
Sri Lanka’s unemployment ratio (excluding the north and the east of the island) had been falling steadily from 8.1 percent in 2003 to 5.2 percent in the last quarter.
Before the end of the war with Tamil Tiger separatists, the surveys did not cover the North and the East.
“The latest data could indicate a reversal in the trend but we will need data from two or more quarters to say it with certainty,” Fernando said.
In the last few years, the government had employed hundreds of thousands of people into the sector while growth sectors like construction as well as the agriculture sector generated more jobs.
Sri Lanka’s labour force was 7.71 million in the first quarter with 34 percent or 2.61 million workers in agriculture, 1.89 million i