Pakistan does not have the lowest unemployment rate in South Asia

Bhutan outranked other countries with an unemployment rate of 3.6% in 2020.

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Claim: World Bank data from 2020 to 2022 suggests that Pakistan has the lowest unemployment rate in South Asia.

Fact: The latest data available is up to the year 2020, not 2022. Further, that data suggests that in 2020, Bhutan had the lowest unemployment rate in South Asia, not Pakistan.

Fact or Fiction?

On 22 March 2022, South Asia Index tweeted that, “Pakistan outranks other South Asian countries with lowest un-employment rates in the region.” The tweet also states that the unemployment rate in the country is 4.3% for the period between 2020-2022 compared with India (8%), Maldives (6.3%), Bangladesh (5.4%), Sri Lanka (5.9%), Bhutan (5%), and Nepal (4.7%). The page quoted the World Bank as the source of this data.

The claim was then picked up and shared by multiple pages on Facebook, including here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, among others.

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be false after reviewing the World Bank data that South Asia Index referred to in their tweet. The latest data available is up to the year 2020 and not 2022, as claimed by South Asia Index. Additionally, the data indicates that Bhutan had the lowest unemployment rate of 3.6% in 2020, contrary to South Asia Index’s claim that Bhutan’s unemployment rate was 5% while Pakistan’s was 4.3%.

It is also worth noting that South Asia Index’s tweet did not mention Afghanistan, which is usually considered part of South Asia, and had the highest unemployment in the region in 2020 with a rate of 11.7%, followed by India with 8%.

Virality

According to a CrowdTangle analysis conducted by Soch Fact Check, the search term “lowest unemployment rate in Pakistan” turned up 45 posts on Facebook which received a total of 10,521 interactions over the 30-day period leading up to 30 March 2022.

Pakistan Development News’ post published 22 March 2022 is doing 3.98x better than other similar posts on Facebook with 430 likes and 66 shares.

On Instagram, the search term received 20,633 interactions across 13 posts during the same period. 

Diva Magazine’s post is doing 1.5 times better on the platform than other similar posts, with 3,400 likes and 91 comments. 

South Asia Index’s tweet received 3,850 retweets, 320 quote tweets and 10,300 likes. The account, which primarily shares data-driven stories, is followed by 26,300 people on Twitter.

The misleading data was also shared by Prime Minister Imran Khan. “I want to congratulate my govt for the way we handled the Covid pandemic –  better than all the countries in South Asia,” the prime minister’s tweet reads. 

Conclusion: South Asia Index shared misleading statistics to suggest that Pakistan had the lowest unemployment rate of 4.3% in South Asia in the period from 2020 to 2022.  In fact, the latest available data is up to the year 2020, and in 2020 Bhutan outranked other South Asian countries with an unemployment rate of 3.6%. 

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