Formal Sector Job Growth a Key Challenge For Papua New Guinea – ADB Report

PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (3 July 2014) – While its economy enjoys robust economic growth, Papua New Guinea (PNG) will face challenges in continuing to generate formal job opportunities for a rapidly growing work force, according to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) new issue of the Pacific Economic Monitor, launched today.

“Papua New Guinea has made some significant progress in creating more formal job opportunities for its young, rapidly growing workforce, but more needs to be done,” said ADB Country Economist, Aaron Batten. “Recent estimates show that the number of formal sector jobs doubled over the last decade. However, the majority of PNG’s population remains excluded from formal job markets.”

The Monitor says a defining feature of PNG’s formal job growth between 2002 and 2013 has been the diversity of employment-generating sectors. Estimates show that agriculture accounted for the largest share of net job creation, followed by manufacturing, then building and construction.

The Pacific Economic Monitor says that underpinning this job growth is improved investor confidence created by fiscal prudence, macroeconomic stability and important policy reforms that reduced government involvement in the financial services and telecommunications sectors.

Papua New Guinea’s GDP growth is forecast at 6.0% in 2014, picking up to a record 21.0% next year, as liquefied natural gas exports start their first full year of production.

The report recommends that policies aimed at reducing inequality and improving the inclusiveness of economic growth should be targeted at expanding access to social services and protection to informal sector workers.

Even with sustained growth in formal sector job creation, it will take decades to move a majority of the population out of the informal sector, the Monitor says. Raising the living standards of those in the informal sector will require assistance that can provide essential infrastructure and social services necessary to expand their access to markets and their ability to participate in PNG’s growing economy.

The Pacific Economic Monitor is a bi-annual review of economic developments in ADB’s 14 developing member countries in the Pacific region.