KARACHI - The rural labour force participation has increased due to significant growth in the agriculture sector in the country. A data recently issued by the State Bank of Pakistan has revealed that urban labour force participation rate has declined while ratio of participation from rural side in the total employment of the country has recorded an upward tendency this year. The Central Banks annual report said the decline in urban labour force participation can be linked to slowdown in urban economic activity due to economic downturn in recent years and low growth in services and manufacturing sector. The concentration of employment in agriculture sector can lead to saturation and underemployment in this sector, however holistic efforts are required in order to ensure that the urban economy gets back on track so that the urban labour force participation remains in consonance with the trend in overall labour participation rate. Report said that the labour force participation in Punjab is the highest while that in NWFP is the lowest. Similarly, NWFP has the least male labour force participation rate among the four provinces, which likely due to adverse security situation and negative growth rate in agri-credit disbursement in the province. On the other hand, Balochistan has the lowest female labour force participation rate among the four provinces, which may be due to cultural reasons, lack of female education and least employment opportunities in the province. The Punjab and Sindh are having overall labour force participation rates in the range of 32 to 33pc, while Balochistan and NWFP are having a participation rate around 27pc. This shows that there is gap between opportunities and resources available for the population in latter two provinces than the former two. Report underlined the need for governments intervention in this area so that the labour force participation in these provinces can be increased for the economys growth. One area of intervention is through investment and extension of credit facilities, both micro-credit as well as agri-credit. The SBP report said that the government of Pakistan has planned to launch an employment guarantee scheme under which training and employment for one person from each household will be provided. Initially the programme will be launched in the poorest 10 to 15 districts of the country, with an allocation of Rs10b. This programme has multiple benefits for both, the economy as well as in eradication of poverty by helping the poor get employment through small public works and social mobilization initiatives. These initiatives would help in lowering the unemployment and helping the youth to contribute to the economic growth of the country.