By Irina Vakulenko
World practice uses a survey of a representative sample to receive objective data and, from 2012, Belarus is to try the same method. The Deputy Chair of the National Statistical Committee of Belarus, Yelena Kukharevich, explains, “Research will be conducted every quarter, polling 7,000 households across all social layers and age categories. Families with children, couples and pensioners are to be included by random selection. To satisfy international practice, around 15 percent of respondents must stay with the survey for a full year, enabling us to survey around 25,000 each year.”
The questionnaire has already been developed, comprising 62 questions. These cover gender, age, education, marital status and financial condition, plus questions on whether citizens are job seeking, studying or have moved abroad to find employment. Moreover, the research should give a better picture of labour migration. For example, at present, the correlation between those employed in the construction and transport spheres and those dismissed stands at 80 percent. However, no further information exists on those who are of employable age but are not currently registered among the economically active population. About 400,000 people are unaccounted for, with no information available on their location or why they have no desire to find a job.
Ms. Kukharevich stresses that personal data (such as names and addresses) collected by the National Statistical Committee won’t be made public and everyone conducting the survey will sign a non-disclosure agreement. By December 2011, the list of households taking part will be agreed, with official letters sent requesting participation, signed by the Chairman of the National Statistical Committee. A hotline is also being launched for the survey.
The new system is to be initially trialled in 700 households, with some questions likely to be adjusted in view of results. The full survey will then be launched in 2012, with data from the first 7,000 households available by late April. This will show information on the number of employed and the level of actual unemployment, with more detailed information appearing later in the year regarding the share of women and men not working, their age and education. Their places of living are to be studied, alongside what their current occupation is.
Such detailed information is required to develop the state population employment programme, helping us see where jobs are needed and in which spheres. Moreover, it should become clear how far the official level of unemployment differs from reality.