UNRWA: Palestinian unemployment rose in second half of 2010

According to a study fromthe United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees, the number of jobless Palestinians is up to 25 percent.

June 9, 2011 04:07
2 minute read.
Palestinian workers build Kedumim settlement home

Palestinian workers build settlement home in Kedumim 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Palestinian unemployment went up in the second half of 2010, according to a study published Wednesday by the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees.

The economic pictures painted by figures from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics challenges the conventional pictures of a flourishing West Bank economy, UNRWA said in a press release it issued to the media.

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“Research shows that in the second half of 2010, unemployment grew much faster than employment, and the purchasing power of average working people’s wages continued to decline in the face of persistently high unemployment rates and consumer price inflation,” it noted.

“These trends disproportionately affected refugees,” it said.

According to the report, Palestinian unemployment in the West Bank and east Jerusalem rose from 21.7% of the overall labor force in the first half of 2010 to 25% in the second half of the year. In the second half of 2009, 23.6% of the work force was unemployed.

The increase in unemployment included a slight drop of 3.64% in the number of Palestinian workers in Israel and the settlements between the first and second halves of 2010, from 79,619 to 76,723. The latter number is still higher by 3.97% than the 73,790 workers employed in Israel and the settlements in the second half of 2009.

The drop also included a decline in employment in agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, construction and transportation in the second half of 2010 when compared to the first half of the year.

There was, however, a rise in private services, commerce and tourism.

The study noted that unemployment was higher among refugees than among non-refugees. In the second half of 2009, unemployment was at 26.7%. It dropped to 25.5% in the first half of 2010, and then rose to 27.9% in the second half.

Among the non-refugees in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, 22.4% were unemployed in the second half of 2009, 20.4% were unemployed in the first half of 2010 and 24.1% were unemployed in the second half of that year.

UNRWA researcher, Salem Ajluni, who authored the research said that his organization planned to issue a subsequent report that would include annual figures.

“While there was modest employment growth, such growth was on the wane in 2010 while the number of unemployed accelerated in the second half of the year.

Refugee labor force participation continued to recede, perhaps due to discouragement about job prospects, as refugee employment declined in this period,” Ajluni said.

He added that both employed refugees and non-refugees lost an average of about 3% in real value of their wages.

Palestinian policymakers have projected growth of 7% in 2011 for both the West Bank and Gaza, though they point out that high growth rates in recent years have largely been dependent on international aid for the Palestinians.

“The implications of these results are profound for the refugees served by UNRWA,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.

“The occupation and its related infrastructure such as settlements and settler-only roads that encroach on and divide Palestinian land, settler violence and the West Bank barrier have diminished prospects for Palestinians in general and especially for refugees."

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