A man in Lebak, Banten, logs in to the government's unemployment benefit website on Tuesday. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Bagus Khoirunas)

Covid-19 to Undo Poverty Eradication Progress, Push Employment to Decade's Low


APRIL 14, 2020

Jakarta. The Covid-19 pandemic will roll back Indonesia's progress in eradicating poverty in the past year while pushing the unemployment level to its highest since 2010, according to the government's latest projection. 

The absolute poverty rate – which reflects the proportion of the country's population living with less than $1 a day – would increase to 9.59 percent this year, from its current level of 9.15 percent, Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said on Tuesday.

The last time the reading was that high was in September 2018, when the country reported a poverty rate of 9.66 percent. 

The unemployment rate is also likely to shoot up to a level the country has not seen since 2011.


"We had planned to lower the unemployment rate to 5.18 percent but with the pandemic, it's now estimated to reach 7.33 percent," Airlangga said. 

The minister said the pre-employment card program will act as a safety net for people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

"The pre-employment card is the second line of defense in dealing with the impact of the pandemic. The program was originally targeted at jobseekers but we've converted it to a social safety net program for people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic at the request of the president [Joko Widodo]," Airlangga said in a meeting with the House of Representatives' legislation committee.

As of Tuesday, Airlangga said, a total of 3.7 million people have registered in the program.

After email and ID verification, a total of 926,790 were admitted to the program’s first batch. 

The number of participants, the minister said, showed the pandemic has shrunk job opportunities for Indonesians. 

Pre-employment Card

Denni Puspa Purbasari, the pre-employment card’s operating management executive director, said in a separate teleconference from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) headquarters that card participants can access and choose their own job training programs on the government's official partners' digital platforms.

"So far, we have 900 training programs on eight digital platforms. After finishing their training, participants will get an e-certificate," Denni said. 

The participants will also be required to give a review of each training program they join. Denni implored the participants to give honest reviews which will be useful to improve their quality.

Denni said the promised incentives will be transferred to the participants after their training has ended.

"The incentives will only be transferred once the participants finish their training. We want to ensure this program is really used to make people more competent in the working environment," she said.

A total of Rp 3.55 million ($224) in incentives is promised for each participant. They consist of a Rp 1 million training assistance, Rp 600,000 per month for four months post-training assistance and a Rp 150,000 evaluation survey incentive.

"The incentives can be transferred to e-wallet accounts such as OVO, Link Aja and Go-Pay, or to a conventional bank account. Hopefully, they can ease the burden on people who have been infected by the pandemic," Denni said.