The increasing importance of health care in Malta appears in striking numbers in the latest employment figures published by the NSO. In the first two months of the year, more than half the additional 4,536 jobs in the economy were created in the health sector, whose employees grew by 10.4 percent.
There was the same percentage growth in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, which now employs 3,910 persons. Lest, however, you run away with the idea that we have hundreds of budding Caravaggios or Lady Gagas, the majority of employees in the sector are servicing the gaming industry. The actual increase in the number of jobs was 758 year-on-year.
Other growth sectors were transportation and storage, where a further 627 jobs were added, administrative services with a 648 job gain, and education with a 554 job increase. Financial and insurance services also contributed 388 additional jobs, for a growth rate three times as much as the overall one.
It was rather heartening to note that the long-suffering manufacturing sector added 180 jobs. That was an increase of just 0.4 percent, but at least it confirmed there is still life in the second-largest employment sector of the economy behind the wholesale and retail trade. Manufacturing now employs 20,149 persons. The puny pharmaceutical industry employs just 1,146 persons, but it added 520 jobs in one year.
The worst performance occurred in the wholesale and retail trade sector, which destroyed 376 jobs year-on-year. It remains the biggest labour pool with 22,913 employees, but it is feeling the effects of less consumer spending.
The number of gainfully-occupied now totals 150,166, 73 percent of whom work in the private sector. Part-time employment continued to grow at a faster rate than full-time employment, with a 5.6 percent increase versus 1.5 percent overall. Some 43 percent of them were part-timers who already hold a full-time job. However, the biggest increase in part-time employees, at 7 percent, was in employees whose primary job is their part-time job.
Just under 47 percent of all part-timers were women, whether part-timers holding a full-time job or persons whose primary job is part-time. They took the major portion (55%) of the increase in part-time jobs. This is a trend that needs to be encouraged actively by any government that wishes to promote higher female participation in the labour force.