The number of empty full time positions fell to 7.24 million in August this year, down 150,000 on the number of jobs available in the same month last year, the report estimated.
But the decrease was not due to positions being filled, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said — rather, the drop belies an increase in the nation’s open unemployment rate from 6.14 percent last year to 6.25 percent.
“There is a slowdown in economic growth, which causes a slowdown in employment,” said a BPS spokesperson Suryamin on Wednesday.
“Meanwhile, the supply of human resources ... has increased,” Suryamin said, noting that the declining employment rate was most noticeable in agriculture, processing industries, construction and trade.
“In the past year, the number of laborers in the agricultural sector declined from 38.9 million to 38.1 million, while in industries the number declined from 24 million to 22.8 million,” he said.
There was however some good news in the BPS report, which detailed job increases in transportation, warehousing, communications, finance and social service industries.
“ In services the number [employed] increased from 47.9 million to 49.9 million people,” Suryamin said.
In December last year, the government established a team for job creation, chaired by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa, to tackle unemployment and provide incentives for companies to draw on Indonesia’s vast labor pool.
According to Hatta last year, the government was aiming to reduce the unemployment rate to 5 percent by 2014.
The BPS report came shortly after workers across the nation demonstrated in support of increased regional minimum wages, with those in Jakarta demanding a monthly minimum wage of Rp 3.7 million ($325).
Hatta claimed on Wednesday that minimum wage policies have contributed to the nation’s unemployment rate, saying that the wage rates mean businesses are forced to lay off employees.
He said that in order to reduce unemployment, the government was moving to support small to medium businesses.