Wholesale and retail trade sector make up 60% of business establishments

Business News

Of the 74,000 persons employed in various establishments, 47,000 are male and 26,000 female

Wholesale and retail trade sector that comprises more than 60% of total business establishments employs the highest share of people at 24.1%, reveals the first Economic Census of Bhutan, 2018-19.

The construction sector follows at 18.5% although it accounts for about one percent of the total number of establishments.

Similarly, the sectors of electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning supply, although having a minimal share in terms of the total number of establishments (0.02%) employs 6% of the total ranking fifth in terms of share of employment.

Of the 74,000 persons employed in various establishments, 47,000 (64%) are male and 26,000 (36%) female.

The proportion of females working in the human health and social service sector (73.2%) was significantly higher than males (26.4%).

Employment of women was found higher than men in the sectors of accommodation and food services and arts and entertainment.

In the construction sector and mining sector, the proportion of male employment was six times higher than the female employment mainly attributed to male non-Bhutanese workers.

Equal shares of men and women were engaged in the wholesale and retail trade and education.

The business establishments were highly concentrated in the small establishments with employment size of one person and 2-3 persons, representing a share of 84.1 percent of the total establishments. However, a large share of the establishments absorbs only 23% of the total employment.

On the other hand, 79 establishments (0.6% of the total number of establishments) that employ 100 or more employees employ almost 50% of the total employed population.

Females are found mostly working in the single person operating establishments, while the share of males increased with increase in the size of establishment.

There were 80% Bhutanese and 20% non-Bhutanese working in different establishments.

Of the 13,300 non-Bhutanese employees, almost half (46% or 6,000 persons) are working in hydro project constructions and around one-third (32%) are working in single proprietorship and partnership establishments.

The Foreign Direct Investment companies are employing more than 3,000 Bhutanese nationals and just a little over 200 non-Bhutanese.

Regarding the status of employment, the regular paid employees at 53.5% accounts for the largest proportion of all employed.

Little more than 5% of total employees are working as unpaid family workers.

Among non-Bhutanese workers, more than half (51.1%) are employed as contract employees and another quarter (23.1%) as casual-paid employees. These are mostly laborers working in the construction sector.

The most significant gender difference is observed in the category of contract and casual-paid employees, where the share of male workers is higher by, respectively, eight and more than four times that of female workers.

In the category of regular-paid employees, the proportion of male workers (65.8%) is almost double that of the female workers (34.2%).

Overall, 63.9% of the employees are male, and 36.1% are female.

Around 3% of all employees work less than 30 hours a week, which comes to less than five hours a day taking an average of six working days in a week.

The larger proportions of persons working less than 30 hours per week are observed for own-account workers, casual-paid workers, and especially unpaid family workers.

More than half of the total employees (57.4%) work between 40 hours and 49 hours per week that comes to around eight hours a day taking an average of six working days a week.

The main contribution to this category of working hours is from regular and contract employees; more than 70% of these employees work between 40 hours and 49 hours a week.

While, in terms of wages and salaries, out of 49,400 regular and contract employees, one-fifth (20.2%) earn more than Nu 25,000 per month.

There are also 2,400 employees (4.9%) whose monthly remuneration is less than Nu 5,000.

The mean monthly remuneration for regular and contract employee is Nu 11,282. Comparatively, the monthly remuneration of contract employees is higher than that of regular paid employees.

This could be related to the recruitment of relatively high-paid non-Bhutanese contract workers in some companies. These can be identified in the remuneration category of Nu 20,000 to Nu 24,999.

The mean monthly remuneration for contract employees is around Nu 18,000, while for regular-paid workers, it is little more than Nu 10,000.

However, the share of regular-paid employees in the two highest remuneration categories (Nu 30,000 and above) is twice as high as that of contract workers (14.1%against 7.1%).

The highest proportions of both regular and contract employees fall in the category of monthly remuneration of Nu 20,000 to Nu 24,999.

In addition, over 5% of regular-paid employees earn less than nu 5,000 per month, compared to only around 2% for contract employees.

Relatively more women than men are in the three lowest remuneration categories (below Nu 15,000), more than half (54.1%) of the female workers against just over one-third (35.6%) of male workers.

On the other hand, the proportion of men is more than twice as high as that of women in the category of monthly remuneration of Nu 20,000 to Nu 24,999, again because of the large number of foreign male contract workers in this category.

The gender-specific distribution of remuneration is reflected in the difference of their median, Nu 8,000 for women and Nu 9,700 for men.

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Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu

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