Karachi [Pakistan], June 11 (ANI): Pakistan is struggling to create job opportunities for 2.5 million people who are looking for re-employment following job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Imran Khan-led Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has said that job protection and creation of new employment opportunities has become the second-largest challenge after the health crisis, The Express Tribune reported.

"Pakistan's economy has to grow by 7-8 per cent per annum to provide job opportunities to almost two million new entrants into the labour market every year," Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said after launching the Economic Survey 2020-21 on Thursday.

Besides, there are 2.5 million people looking for re-employment, who had lost their jobs due to layoffs in the wake of the closure of different industries following the imposition of a strict nationwide lockdown last year, he further said.

Pakistan has a massive proportion of the young population that is unemployed. A large number of the youth lack quality education and skills required for mainstream jobs.

Since the country recorded negative economic growth of 0.4 per cent in the previous fiscal year, a large number of new entrants into the labour market failed to secure jobs in FY21 in addition to the millions of people who were rendered jobless during the peak of the pandemic in FY20.

Tarin pointed out that around 55.7 million people were working before the imposition of lockdown in March 2020 and this figure fell to 35 million when constraints on movement were at their peak during April-May 2020 - a fall of 20.7 million or 37 per cent.

The number of employed people before the pandemic struck Pakistan, at 55.7 million, was already low compared to around 60-65 million people in prior years.

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, protection and creation of jobs is the second biggest challenge after the health crisis in Pakistan," the survey stated.

"Owing to population growth, Pakistan is facing difficulties in optimal social spending ie healthcare, education, housing and employment," it said. "In such a scenario, the advent and spread of Covid-19 has further aggravated the situation."

"Pakistan, being the fifth most populous country and having the ninth largest labour force in the world, adds a large number of people to its jobs market every year," the survey said.

Pakistan's total population is estimated at 215.25 million with a growth rate of 1.8 per cent in 2020. (ANI)

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