The Arab Labor Organization has rung the alarm bell, warning of a rise in unemployment in the Arab World, which reached 14.3 percent at the end of 2000, according to a report last week by the organization.
The Arab World population reached the figure of 248 million at the end of 2000 with an annual increase of 2.5 percent compared to the population in 1999 which stood at 277 millions.
The organization called for the activation of its role to cope with the current situation and support the political, economic and social stability of the Arab countries. This is also to enhance the training programs and alleviate the rate of unemployment which has reached 14.3 percent and is expected to increase annually by one percent costing the Arab countries about 115 billion dollars.
The study also pointed to the oscillation of the region's economic performance. The figures have revealed a decline in the GNP of the Arab countries in recent years. The average economic growth in these countries in 1996 was 5.5 percent but it declined to 3.6 percent in 1997. The biggest decline was in 1998 when the economy shrank by 2.5 percent, while the industrial countries achieved a growth rate of 3.3 percent
The Saudi daily newspaper Al Jazeera said that the international salvation agency in Saudi Arabia focused on the unemployment problem which has a negative impact on the economies of the Arab and Islamic countries and threatens the living conditions in them. The agency attempted to provide job opportunities in these countries for all age categories through small businesses and has achieved tangible results in many Arab and Islamic countries.
According to the statistics of the Arab Labor Organization, the labor force in the Arab World reached about 87.6 million workers in 1999 and it is expected to reach 90.8 million workers by the end of 2000 at an annual increase rate of 3.7 percent. The organization expected this figure to increase to 123 million workers in 2010.
The organization’s study report confirmed that the Arab labor force growth rate exceeds the demographic growth rates despite the fact that its contribution to the economic activities is still modest. The report also noted that the number of the newcomers to the labor market will increase during the present decade to three million, a chalenge that Arab states have to stand up to, according to the report.
To keep unemployment in the Arab World at its current levels, about 13 million unemployed, the Arab countries should provide 2.5 million jobs each year, said the ALO, which functions under the Arab League.
The average growth rate of the Arab labor force is considered high when compared with that in other world countries, due to the age factor as the majority of the Arabs are young. In addition, the increasing participation of women in the labor markets adds a new challenge to policymakers, accoding to the report.
The organization added that the services sector in the Arab world absorbs 45.8 percent of the labor force, followed by the agriculture and industry sectors respectively.
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )