The Head of the Bali Statistic Center, Hanif Yahya, has confirmed that unemployment rates in Bali have started to decrease. In another positive step in the reopening of the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic, Balinese workers are being summoned back to their places of work.
According to the Central Statistics Agency of Bali Province, there are 3.48 million people of working age in Bali. As of February 2022, 2.68 million were engaging in regular work. This is an increase of 116,410 people compared to February 2021. The returning workforce has helped bring Bali’s unemployment rate down by 0.58% to 4.84%. Compared to other countries in South East Asia this is quite a high unemployment rate. Unemployment in Thailand sits at just 1.02% and in Vietnam at 2.27%.
Indonesia’s social security is nominal compared to nations in Europe. If someone is unemployed they receive very little government. Behind every unemployed individual of working age are several dependants not of working age whose life is also impacted by the lack of income.
The Chairman of the Confederation of All Indonesian Trade Unions (SPSI), I Wayan Madra, stated that many workers who were laid off during the pandemic have returned to work. Those whose jobs no longer exist due to companies collapsing have begun to find work elsewhere.
Surprisingly, it is not just the tourism sector that has been able to welcome its workforce back. The manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation sectors have seen the biggest jump in employment figures. Manufacturing in Bali provides a significant amount of jobs. Manufacturing of clothing, cultural goods, and specialist foods are three key focus areas.
Though what remains to be seen is if demand for the cultural goods and clothing manufactured in Bali continues to rise. Though tourist numbers are increasing it may be couple of years before tourist numbers hit the pre-pandemic numbers.
For many of Bali’s workforce, there is simply no job to go back to. Hundreds of shops, cafes, and guesthouses closed their doors permanently in the early months of the pandemic. It is hoped that local entrepreneurs will find a way to pivot their offerings and reopen in some capacity. This new chapter for Bali is an opportunity for new business ideas to present themselves and for local entrepreneurs to capitalize on emerging trends.
That being said, many Balinese workers will be able to find work in the informal sector. There will finally be sufficient work for front of house staff in cafes and bars, shop assistants, taxi drivers, translators, guides, and babysitters. There are hundreds of roles to be filled in the behind-the-scenes sub-sectors of the hospitality trade. Kitchen porters, cleaners, laundry staff, security guards, and gardeners will all need to be rehired by hotels, guest houses, and restaurants.
At present, there are no figures on how many non-Balinese workers from across Indonesia returned to their homes throughout the pandemic. There are thousands of domestic economic migrants from Java, Sumatra, and other Indonesian islands in Bali who have relocated to get their slice of the revenue generated by the tourism sector. There has yet to have been commentary on whether these workers will return en masse at the earliest opportunity, or whether there will be a gradual return mirroring that of the steadily increasing numbers of visitors.
As the G20 Summit approaches, hosted in Bali in November 2022, the government is determined to show that the country has bounced back from the pandemic. Indonesia needs to showcase the tourism sector in particular. To be able to demonstrate a sustained positive economic bounce back from the financial losses of Covid-19 during the G20 Summit will do wonders for international relations.
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