Jordan's unemployment rate at highest level in eight years: report

Published May 18th, 2016 - 12:00 GMT
Reducing unemployment rates is not the responsibility of the ministry alone, citing that the number of university graduates in Jordan is on the rise and some majors do not meet the needs of labour market  (Mutualresponsibility.org)
Reducing unemployment rates is not the responsibility of the ministry alone, citing that the number of university graduates in Jordan is on the rise and some majors do not meet the needs of labour market (Mutualresponsibility.org)

The latest figures on unemployment recently released by the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) show that the rate registered by the end of last year was the highest since 2008. 

The statistics were described by experts as alarming. 

The Labour Ministry refused to take the blame for the rising joblessness levels as its spokesperson, Mohammad Al Khateeb, insisted that the ministry is not the sole entity in charge of reducing the rates. 

In its annual report for 2015, issued Monday, the CBJ said the unemployment rate reached 13 per cent last year, the highest since 2008, showing that the number of unemployed Jordanians increased by 36,000 to reach around 209,000.

Economist Zayyan Zawaneh said the CBJ should have announced the figures earlier than May, as it is a partner in developing the country’s economic policies.

He said that unemployment cannot be addressed amid the absence of a comprehensive vision to solve the Kingdom's economic woes and the slow growth over the past years. 

"Failing to address economic issues, Jordan is going to face a crisis," he said in remarks to The Jordan Times over the phone on Tuesday. 

Phoenix Centre for Economic and Informatics Studies Director Ahmad Awad, a labour expert, said the CBJ figures are alarming and require decisive changes in the labour structure. 

Awad accused the Labour Ministry of failing to come up with applicable policies to address the rising unemployment rates in the Kingdom. 

"Instead of addressing the issue by drawing up proper policies, the ministry has been playing the role of recruitment agencies through networking between jobseekers and employers," he charged.

Khateeb said reducing unemployment rates is not the responsibility of the ministry alone, citing that the number of university graduates in Jordan is on the rise and some majors do not meet the needs of labour market. 

"This issue requires to be tackled first," he added.

Khateeb defended the ministry’s approach and efforts to find more job opportunities for Jordanians, indicating that it has implemented several initiatives and campaigns, including the organisation of job fairs.

The official also blamed regional turmoil for the rising joblessness rates. 

"Turmoil in neighbouring countries affected trade with Syria and Iraq and resulted in many Jordanians losing their jobs," he said.

Awad said if not addressed now, the issue of unemployment will become worse, as the number of university graduates is on the rise, and the Gulf markets are not offering jobs as before. 

Zawaneh said due to political transformation expected in the Kingdom in the coming months –– parliamentary elections and the appointment of a new government –– may push down the issue of unemployment on the policymakers’ priority list. 

"Parliamentary elections are expected in the coming months and a designated government would be in charge. So there would be no room for addressing such an issue despite its importance," he added.

Last week, five young men threatened to commit collective suicide by jumping off a building near the Interior Ministry Circle in Amman demanding jobs. Police managed to convince the men to terminate the plan.

The incident fuelled concerns about the adverse impact of unemployment, with one scholar saying that fifth of the suicide attempts in Jordan are blamed on joblessness.

By Khetam Malkawi


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