MENA Has The World’s Highest Jobless Rate

Civil unrest across the Middle East and North Africa has resulted in the highest jobless rate across the world.

An average 28% of men and women across the region are underemployed – with 9% of those only in part time work and are looking for jobs offering more hours.

The lowest jobless rates are in Europe and Asia, with the exception of countries that have suffered serious financial crisis, like Spain, where unemployment is 26%.

In many European countries and Asian nations like Singapore, unemployment averages 4%.

The study, by market research firm Gallup, also revealed only 18% of the adult population in the MENA region is employed full time.

Arab Spring

By comparison, the figure is 42% in the US, 33% in the European Union and 21% in South-East Asia.

“More than half the MENA region’s adult population does not contribute to the economy by working,” said a Gallup spokesman. “At 56%, this is the largest percentage of any region in the world.

“Politics and religion lead to many women not working, which reduces the number of those interested in working full time. Younger people have a challenge finding work and this has underscored a lot of the civil unrest.”

Youth unemployment is cited as one of the drivers behind the Arab Spring revolutions in many nations.

Figures from the International Monetary Federation reckon a third of men and women in Saudi Arabia are unemployed.

Gallup argues that each nation in the region must act to tackle the problem.

Jobless challenge

“Each country has specific challenges in helping the jobless. Some rely on expat workers to provide cheap labour which means jobs that locals could fill are unavailable; others have highly educated young people whose qualifications do not match the jobs that are available or unskilled workers who need training so their skills match what employers need.”

Besides the violence in Egypt and Syria, Bahrain is another country that has been marred by civil unrest.

There, the government has reinstated fees to companies hiring expat workers, but cut them by 50% in a bid to help the recover from economic reverses.

The cut applies to small businesses with less than five workers, which comprise 78% of the total number of firms in the nation.

“The decision has been approved and is awaiting final consent,” said a government spokesman.

Businesses in Bahrain should pay a levy on employing expats, but the government has waived the tax since April 2011.

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