More women are taking up jobs but the a large gender pay gap remains in Indonesia. (Antara Photo/Yulius Satria Wijaya)

Indonesia Records Lowest Unemployment Rate in Last Decade, Though Gender Pay Gap Remains


MAY 07, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia has recorded its lowest unemployment rate in more than a decade this year, though a wide gender wage gap has proved to be harder to shift.  

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.01 percent in February from 5.13 percent in the same month last year, according to new Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data released on Monday. 

In numbers, 6.82 million Indonesians out of a total working population of 136 million remained unemployed in February, compared to 6.87 million a year ago, the data showed.

BPS head Suhariyanto said unemployment rate has continued to decline in the past four years, despite millions of new workers entering the job market each year.

In February, the number of working population had increased by 2.29 million compared to a year before.

The fall in unemployment rate stretched all the way back to 2006 when 10.3 percent of Indonesia's working population were without jobs.

Since then, excluding small upticks in 2013 and 2015, the unemployment rate has continued to decline thanks to a steady economic growth.

Unemployment rate in the city was 6.3 percent in February, still higher than 3.5 percent in rural areas, Suharyanto said.

This may come down to the fact that most of Indonesia's workforce only completed elementary school, which makes it difficult for them to compete for high-skill jobs in the cities.  

Sector-wise, more jobs were taken up in February in the hospitality and food and beverage industries (0.43 percent), trading (0.39 percent) and construction (0.34 percent).

Meanwhile, employment fell in a big way in the agricultural sector (by 1 percent), civil service (0.2 percent) and information and communications (0.06 percent).

Gender Wage Gaps

A total of 55.5 percent of women in the workforce held down jobs in February, up slightly from 55.4 percent a year ago. 

But women still earned around Rp 700,000 ($50) less on average per month than men, unchanged from last year. 

The average pay of male workers is Rp 3 million, up from Rp 2.9 million last year. The average pay of female workers is Rp 2.3 million, up from Rp 2.2 million. 

Men earn more than women at every level of education. The biggest gender pay gap, of Rp 1.62 million, is found among the university-educated. At this level, male workers receive a monthly paycheck of Rp 5.15 million on average, while women receive only Rp 3.54 million, BPS data showed.

Among a total of 17 sectors, mining and excavation was the highest-paying in February with an average wage of Rp 5.1 million per month. 

The lowest-paying jobs are found in the service sector — which includes religious and charity workers. They fetch an average wage of Rp 1.7 million per month.