With unemployment reaching an “unprecedented” level unseen in the last 25 years, economists have warned about the consequences of joblessness on the stability and wellbeing of Jordan and Jordanians.
According to the latest figures from the Department of Statistics (DoS), Jordan's unemployment reached 18.2 percent during the first quarter of 2017, rising by 3.6 percent compared with the same period last year.
By the end of March this year, unemployment among men stood at 13.9 percent, while 33 percent of women surveyed were unemployed, the DoS reported.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the rate of unemployment was 15.8 per cent.
While the department said the new figures are the result of a new methodology used to measure joblessness, economist Ahmad Awad defied such a claim.
“The new assessment methodology, which entails counting foreigners and refugees in the unemployment surveys, is not yet applied. The government said the new approach excludes those who work for a family member without pay and those only account for two to three in a thousand,” noted Awad, director of the Phenix Centre for Economic and Informatics Studies.
He noted that the new unemployment rate is “critical” and is higher than at any point in the past 25 years.
“The new figure is also not caused by the Syrian influx, but by government policies which have hit productive sectors, such as agriculture, industry and manufacturing,” he told The Jordan Times on Thursday.
Awad argued that high taxes have resulted in thousands of companies not renewing licensing, and investors preferring Egypt and Turkey for business.
“Add to that the poor public management and higher education policies,” he said, stating that a 33-percent unemployment rate among women is “catastrophic”.
Economist Wajdi Makhamreh also criticised public policies for failing to stimulate job creation, but considered the overall political situation in the region, the influx of Syrian refugees and the closure of the borders with Syria and Iraq as factors that have exacerbated the situation.
“There is a loss of confidence in the investment environment and in the national economy’s abilities in light of the increased debt levels and other factors on the ground,” the expert said.
On the other hand, Makhamreh argued that the high unemployment rate is a “true problem” that, if remains unaddressed, could lead young people to crime or extremism.
By Laila Azzeh
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