Providing adequate food, clothing and shelter for individuals and their families is one of the basic requirements in any society. Apart from the subsistence economy, to a large extent this is dependent upon people’s capacity to locate some form of income-generating employment. One very real and dangerous impact of the Indonesian economic crisis - at least in those parts of the country where its impact has been most severe - has been the upheaval within the labour market as so many large companies and business enterprises have collapsed or been forced to reduce drastically their activities. As a result, we all know that many people have lost their jobs, especially in urban areas. But just how extensive have these changes been? Which industries have been most affected, and what alternative forms of employment have those who have lost their jobs been able to find? What has been the impact on families and the wider community? SMERU has been working in recent months to shed some light on these complex problems.
In this issue of our newsletter we present in summary form the results of our investigations. Our field researchers have conducted a large number of interviews with workers who have lost their jobs in the formal sector of the economy as part of four case studies of industries that have been seriously affected by the crisis. We include here the key findings from that study.
Although the crisis has hit hardest in urban areas of Indonesia, we also know that the whole of Java has been affected since there is a powerful interconnection between events in the main cities and towns and life in the surrounding rural hinterland. A specially commissioned SMERU social impact survey of one such location - along the north coast of West Java - sheds valuable light on occupational changes and the economic impact of these events.
As a complement to both of these studies we include a brief summary of some of the most salient findings to emerge from the most recent labor force survey conducted by the Central Agency for Statistics.