August 16, 2015. Figures released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics show that unemployment in the Gaza Strip went down just a tenth of a percent compared to the previous quarter and now stands at 41.5%, or 192,400 people. Unemployment among women is at 59.5%, compared to 36.3% among men. In contrast, unemployment in the West Bank stands at 15.4%.
The high unemployment rate is particularly stark given the low rate of participation in the workforce in the Gaza Strip – 44.9% in the second quarter of 2015 – only about 463,700 people. Among women, 20.4% participate in the workforce (104,000 individuals), compared to 68.8% among men (359,700). The workforce is made up of persons aged 15 and up who are able to work and who are looking for work.
Unemployment among young people in Gaza, aged 15-29, stands at 58%, a slight increase compared to the previous quarter (57.8%). At the same time, among young women, unemployment stands at about 78%, an increase of approximately 8% compared to last quarter.
In addition, though the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, which was set up to coordinate the entry of construction materials into Gaza for the private sector, has been active for a year, only 4.2% of Gaza’s residents are employed in the construction sector (11,395 workers only, out of all people employed in the Gaza Strip). This is compared to 6.9% in the first quarter of 2013 (which, at the time, meant 32,064 of all people employed in the Strip). At that time, tunnels between Gaza and Egypt were used to bring in materials forbidden from entering via Israeli-controlled crossings and some materials were entering via Israel for internationally-funded projects.