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19 Million Jobless Expected in the Arab World By 2020

Middle East : 17 February 2011

There will be an increase in the number of unemployed across the Arab region by 2020, climbing from 11 million in 2008 to hit 19 million by the end of the decade, according to a Kuwaiti think tank. Despite this increase, the Arab Planning Institute says regional jobless rates will be steady at 11 percent.

The figures indicate that many Arab nations are facing the challenge of rising unemployment that’s moving faster than other areas on the globe, according the statement by API.

The firm noted an increase in youth unemployment, as well as the trend that Arab girls are far more likely to remain unemployed than young men and adult women. Also, API noted that youth with an education suffered more than those without.

The population of the area is expected to swell in a way similar to other developing areas of the world, with an increase in birth rates and a drop in mortality rates.

Populations across the Arab region have been growing at a factor of 3.5 in the time spanning from 1960 (86 million) to 2008 (300 million). On average, Arab population growth rates have sat around 3.5 percent annually.

From 1980 to 2007 the average growth rate of Arab populations fell a little to hit 3.1 percent, only to be overtaken by the 3.5 percent average workforce growth rate.

The API noted that a faster growing workforce is of benefit to a population given that these Arab nations have the workforce numbers to support an expanding population and help push development projects through.

Unfortunately the Arab nations are not able to reap the benefits and this condition is becoming burdensome. The circumstances may be more beneficial than an aging population, but the governments were not able to mobilize the labour force in the direction of genuine development, according to the API.

Economic growth over the 27-year period from 1980 to 2007 was 3.5 percent on average, compared to the 3.8 percent global average.

Jobless rates in Lebanon hovered around 12 to 14 percent, based on the findings of international groups and domestic non-profit organizations. Because the official statistics on demographics are difficult to pin down, there is no consensus on this figure.

No official census has been done since prior to the foundation of the Lebanese republic. The last population census in the nation was done in 1932.

Certain surveys indicate that jobless rates are as much as four times greater in the under 25-age bracket when compared to those over 25.

Reporters from the Daily Star spoke with an economist in January who stated that higher rates of migration were artificially lowering the jobless rates in Lebanon. The economist noted that if nationals ceased looking for work abroad the rates of unemployment would be far greater considering the fact that the labour market there cannot absorb the total domestic workforce.

API stated that Arab nations have an elemental problem due to the fact that their economies are not surpassing a 5 percent annual real growth rate, which is necessary to make a significant reduction in the jobless rate.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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