The number of people officially employed by private firms and public entities in Armenia has increased by more than 18,000 in the past year, according to the national tax service.
Data released by the State Revenue Committee (SRC) on Monday shows that it totalled around 505,000 in the first quarter of this year, up by 3.7 percent from the same period in 2017.The SRC did not specify whether the increased payrolls mostly resulted from new jobs created in the country or its efforts to reduce the informal sector of the Armenian economy.
The government agency said only that its first-quarter proceeds from personal income tax collection rose by 7 percent. It also reported a more than 4 percent rise in the average monthly salary which reached 176,000 drams ($365).
Speaking on April 11, Minister for Economic Development Suren Karayan said investment projects supported by the government through tax breaks alone translated into 5,700 new jobs in the private sector last year.
Armenia has long been beset by double-digit unemployment. Its unemployment rate was estimated at around 20 percent a year ago.
According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), the Armenian economy grew by 7.5 percent in 2017. The NSS recorded a 7.2 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2018.
In recent days, acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian, who was replaced by opposition leader Nikol Pashinian on Tuesday, has publicized a raft of macroeconomic data showing continuing rapid gains in Armenia’s industrial output, retail trade and especially exports. The official figures posted on his Facebook page were clearly meant to defend his and his cabinet’s 20-month track record.
“I want to thank our government team,” Karapetian wrote on Tuesday. “It was a team of highly honest and patriotic individuals.”
Karapetian also congratulated Pashinian on becoming prime minister and wished him “many successes.”
Two members of Karapetian’s economic team, acting Finance Minister Vartan Aramian and SRC chief Vartan Harutiunian, met with the new prime minister later in the day. According to the premier’s office, Pashinian told them to continue to perform their duties until the formation of his cabinet.
Speaking in the Armenian parliament earlier on Tuesday, Pashinian dismissed the official statistics indicating robust economic growth. He said it has had little impact on the lives of most Armenians.