2009 Census of Population and Housing
There were significant economic and labour force changes in Solomon Islands between 1999 and 2009, and many of these are documented by information from the 2009 Census.
The labour force activities of individuals revealed by the 2009 Census showed some interesting trends. In this report, three different work participation rates were calculated. The Labour Force Participation Rate was 63 percent of those aged twelve and over, with similar rates for men and women. However, much of this labour force was operating in the subsistence economy as shown by the Paid Worker to Population Rate which was only 24 percent; within this males had a rate twice as high as females. The Wage-Salary to Population Rate was only 16 percent with men two and one half times as likely to be in a waged or salaried job as women. Since the previous census, the rate of Paid Worker to Population Rate has increased slightly, from 24 to 26 percent of the population aged 15 and over. However, when absolute numbers are considered, the number of those not participating in paid work has increased considerably, thus suggesting ongoing demand for paid employment in the future.
Notable sectoral and occupational changes in the Solomon Islands labour force were also revealed by the census. The largest increase in paid work was in the primary sectors of agriculture and forestry-logging, with much of that in the former involving production for sale. Sectors of increased employment between 1999 and 2009 included construction, hotels and restaurants (tourism), and government service sectors, especially education, so there was a substantial increase in the number of teachers employed over this period. Wholesale and retail remained an important sector of employment, but showed little growth, while there was a significant employment decline in manufacturing.
The rate of unemployment in 2009 was shown to be only 2.3 percent (or a little higher using an alternative approach), but this was not comparable to the rate of 11.1 percent shown by the 1999 Census. The reason for this was that the question about “actively seeking work” was asked of very different base populations. While the 1999 question being directed to those who were not paid workers but were looking for paid work, in 2009 the question was asked of a much smaller base population of those who did not undertake any type of work in the cash or subsistence sectors. Thus, it is expected that the demand for paid work is likely to be much higher than the unemployment rate implies.
(extract from the 2009 Census Report on Economic Activity and Labour Force - Conclusions)