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