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Job losses during the pandemic which were stipulated by stringent and lengthy pandemic-related restrictions have been one of the most acute problems. As reported by the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the unemployment rate in 2021 reached 20.6% which is 2.1 percentage points higher as compared to the previous year. In 2020-2021, the unemployment rate increased by three percentage points in total during the pandemic.

According to the methodology of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the unemployment rate is measured by the unemployed people to the economically active population (workforce) ratio. The workforce is the total sum of employed people and those looking for employment. In the years of the pandemic (2020-2021), the economically active population (both employed and those looking for employment) decreased by 39,200. As compared to 2020, the workforce increased in 2021 which was attributable to the growth of the number of jobless people looking for employment.

In regard to the employment figure, the number of employed individuals in 2021 decreased by 2%; that is, by 24,400 as compared to the previous year. As compared to the period prior to the pandemic, there are 78,500 less employed people in total.

In light of stringent and lengthy economic restrictions, the number of employed people in 2020 decreased sharply and this negative trend continued in the first and second quarters of 2021. The relaxation of the economic restrictions was logically followed by the restoration of various economic parameters, including employment figures. In the third and fourth quarters of 2021, employment figures have increased, although the number of employed individuals is now less as compared pre-pandemic figures.

Graph 1: Employment/Unemployment People in 2013-2021

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

According to the methodology of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, employed individuals are divided into two categories: hired employees and self-employees. Of note is that hired employment is more efficient in the total number of employed people. In case of self-employed people, their employment efficiency is lower, since their employment is largely low-income or/and unstable. In 2020-2021, the decrease in employment figures was largely stipulated by the decrease in the number of hired employees. As compared to the pre-pandemic period, the number of hired employees decreased by 68,100. In the same period, the number of self-employees decreased by 10,800.

Graph 2: Distribution of Employees According to their Status in 2013-2021

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

The sharp deterioration of employment parameters during the pandemic was not a pandemic-accompanying process only and it was largely stipulated by the government’s unsound policy – stringent and lengthy economic restrictions. In light of the relaxation of economic restrictions, employment figures started to recover in the second half of 2021, although jobs lost during the pandemic could not be recovered.