The Lost Arab Generation


Human Wrongs Watch

The latest available regional information about labour in the Middle East and North of Africa unveil strongly discouraging facts– youth unemployment rates are among the highest ones in the world, and unemployment rates among young women are two to three times higher than among young men, just to mention some striking examples.

Author: WeedWagon | Wikimedia Commons

These facts, among many others, have been reported by the UN International Labor Organization (ILO), which says that labour market estimates for Arab states and territories and North African countries over the period 2006 to 2010 indicate that these economies are characterized by high unemployment rates, with significant variations within countries by sex, age and education.

The exception are the small Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The region reports some of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world,” reports ILO. “In many of the countries, youth unemployment rates are at least double the total rates (between two and four out of ten people aged 15 to 25 are unemployed).”

Women, Five To Ten Times More Unemployed Than Men

Here too, sharp differences exist by sex as unemployment rates among young women are, in some countries, two to three times higher than among young men, and five to nine times higher than for the total (youth + adults) unemployed population, according to ILO.

Nonetheless, the global economic crisis has not produced a large negative impact or significant change in trend in most of the analyzed indicators. in fact, most of the countries have experienced economic and employment growth in the last two years.

Average Unemployment Exceeds Nine Percent

ILO adds that employment by sector varies by country. Some gulf oil exporter countries have a small primary sector and a relatively large public administration sector, while in North African countries the situation is reversed.

Average aggregate unemployment rates exceed 9 percent in eight out of eleven countries of the region with available data for 2009/2010.

Women, The Great Victims, Again

Although women’s labour force participation rates are substantially lower than those for men (e.g., on average two out of five women participate in the labour force, compared to four out of five men), women’s unemployment rates are significantly higher in most of the countries, in some cases up to three times as high.

These findings indicate the existence of sharply differentiated labour market behaviour by sex within the countries which reflect cultural factors as well as possible patterns of discrimination, ILO reports.

The More Educated, The More Unemployed

Unemployment is relatively higher for those with medium and advanced levels of education (or high skilled).

Thus, the share of high-skilled unemployment in total unemployment is higher, on average, than the share of high-skilled economically active population (EAP) in total EAP.

See full statistics on ILO Statistical Updates On Arab States And Territories And North African Countries: http://laborsta.ilo.org/sti/DATA_FILES/20110525_Arab_States.pdf

2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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