In the popular imagination, unemployment is rife in Cameroon. Some do not even hesitate to put it at a percentage close to 70, 80, or 90%. But the National Statistics Institute (INS) indicates that the unemployment figure is around 3.8%. Which is equivalent to roughly 350,000 people. INS indicates that the average age of jobseekers is 27 years old. It is approximately 28 years for men and close to 27 years for women.
How can we have such a low unemployment rate in Cameroon? Actually INS acknowledges that 3.8% “is not a good indicator of the pressures on the job market”. But, “with the lack of allowances, remaining jobless is only possible for those from a relatively well-to-do family susceptible of taking care of those who do not work”, the Institute specifies. In other words, a jobseeker only needs to operate even in the informal sector (moto-taxi, call-box, hawkers, second-hand clothes seller) to not be considered jobless anymore.
This is when the concept of “underemployment” comes into the mix. INS notes that, like in most developing countries, it is the underemployment which better reveals in Cameroon the reality of the unemployment and which gives a better idea on the insufficiency or inadequacy of the employment offer. Visible underemployment concerns people who, involuntarily, work less than 40 hours per week. It affects 14.8% of the population actively working. This includes workers whose remuneration is lower than the guaranteed hourly minimum wage (the equivalent of FCfa 36,270 per month for 40 hours of work per week).