Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Gettin' By

As the United States and Canada start to freak out that their unemployment rates approach the double digits, officially, Liberia's unemployment rate remains, on paper, as 85%. Almost, but not quite, making it an inverse relationship.

The CIA Factbook uses this 85% stat, and I think everyone else cites it and throws it around like its an iron-clad stat. Its not.

While Liberia certainly lacks locations for official, regulated employment, that only 15 % of the population works is an absurd assumption, and one that would be practically unattainable. While severe poverty is rampant, Liberians are not starving to death. Reason being, that as in any society where basic infrastructure has been destroyed, people find a way to get by.

They fill in the gaps of people's needs, finding small ways to deliver goods and services to the population at large. 'Git my hustle on,' as it is said.

In this hustle, profit margins are wafer thin. Full days of work often produce just a few dollars, which in turn often gets spread out to family and friends in need.

During my eight months of living here, and poking around at all levels of society, I still remain fascinated by the micro-economy. So, I have been collecting info about how many people manage to 'get their daily bread' - another ism.

Starting tomorrow, irregular installments of 'Gettin' by' will feature some of the professions that interest me the most. Until I run out of petty traders, or until I get bored.

Admittedly, it will be Monrovia-centric, but many of such trades extend around the country.

If you feel you have insight into how some small service works around here, please feel free to contact me.


1 comment:

nate said...

wafer thin. YES! not for their lack of profitability or overall employment situation, but for the excellent usage of a past economic pep talk.