Issue 5, 2013. October-November

   

UNBUNDLING LABOR: A SNAPSHOT OF GEORGIA'S WORKFORCE

Georgia's high level of unemployment and troubling labor-skills mismatch is often in the spotlight. But who are the employed? How do women's salaries stack up to those of their male colleagues? Investor.ge's Maia Edilashvili looks at the numbers.

Maia Edilashvili

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

There is good news, bad news, and even worse news about the Georgian labor market. Good news: salaries are increasing, and a noticeable number of skilled professionals from the private sector have taken government jobs in an effort to bolster the level of expertise and experience in the public sector.

Average minimum monthly salaries in Georgia are up nearly 300 percent, from 204 lari in 2005 to 636 lari in 2011, the latest year for which data are available. The increase is even more noticeable when compared with salaries in 2000, when workers averaged just 72 lari per month.


But the bad news overshadows the good. Women earn less than men, and have a harder time finding a job in the country's difficult employment market.

In Georgian businesses, the average monthly salary for men is 793 lari, while women receive just 582 lari per month.That discrepancy exists across the board for Georgia's female workforce, according to the International Labour Organization's (ILO) 2012/2013 Global Wage Report.

Georgia ranks tenth in terms of gender pay gap. By way of comparison, in Belarus women earn more than their male counterparts. ILO's research into the labor market also underscored that the skills mismatch β€” both under-qualification and over-qualification β€”is still high, although it has improved since 2002.

In addition, the lack of "quality employment" has eroded opportunities in Georgia at a much faster pace than other emerging countries, ILO's Global Employment Trends 2013 report noted.

The report found that between 2000 and 2010, informal employment increased particularly sharply in Caucasian and Central Asian countries: Azerbaijan (+14 percentage points), Turkmenistan (+11 percentage points) and Georgia (+7 percentage points).

"Despite the continuous improvement in headline labor market indicators, the widespread and growing presence of informal employment indicates that the quality of employment has deteriorated," the report notes. In addition, the report highlighted that this trend in this region comes in "stark contrast with other emerging regions in the world where broadly informal employment has declined as countries managed to implement anti-poverty measures and successfully applied formalization strategies."

The Numbers

Nearly 60 percent of Georgia's employable two million people have jobs, according to Geostat, Georgia's official statistics body.

While officially unemployment is at 15 percent, nationwide surveys by the Caucasus Research Resource Center found that 31 percent of its 3,838 respondents are unemployed and working for work.

Lana Tsagareishvili, director at Mindstream, a Tbilisi-based company specializing in recruiting, headhunting, training and job fairs, says that the most active employers are sales and marketing specialists, as well as technicians β€” including everything from engineers to electricians.

Midstream's database has 8,000 registered candidates but the highest paid careers in Georgia are in management and IT: the monthly salary for IT specialists is 6,000 lari on average, while financial manager can earn as much as 9,000 lari. However, such offers are limited and mostly come from international employers, Tsagareishvili underlined.


Business Sector in Focus

According to GeoStat's second-quarter figures,the number of people employed by enterprises in Georgia is 503,000, 39 percent of whom are female. Large businesses employ 60 percent of all workers, medium-size enterprises employ 15 percent and small businesses employ the remainder.

Trade, automobile repairs, and repairs of home and personal items are the dominant job providers in the business sector, comprising 21 % of all employment. The processing industry providesjobs to 17% of all employed people, health care and social care provides jobs to 11%, transport and communications - 11 %, and real estate transactions - 9.9%.