The unemployment rate in Gaza decreased by 3.2% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter, and now stands at 44.7%, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). In practice, however, actual unemployment is higher. Since early 2019, PCBS does not include people who have given up on looking for work due to the lack of opportunities in the Strip in its tally of the unemployed. The gap in unemployment rates between Gaza (44.7%) and the West Bank (16.9%) remains significant.
About a third of all people who are counted as employed in Gaza earned less than the 1,450 ILS (∼450 USD) minimum wage in April-June 2021, making only 655 ILS (∼205 USD) per month on average.
The number of individuals employed in the construction sector in Gaza plummeted by 42.3% during the second quarter, reaching just 7,866 workers in total. Jobs in the farming and fishing sector decreased by 7.4% compared to the previous quarter. Jobs in the hotel, tourism, and restaurant industry increased by 21%.
The rate of participation in Gaza’s workforce for people over the age of 15 was 38.3% in the second quarter of the year, a drop of approximately 0.5% compared to the first quarter. The unemployment rate among women in Gaza in this quarter was 64%, a 7% increase from the previous quarter, with 67,400 women counted as unemployed.
About 35.7% of employed people in Gaza in the second quarter were public sector employees, meaning they work for the Palestinian Authority or for the de facto government in the Strip. Average daily earnings in the public sector in the second quarter were 90.5 ILS (28 USD). In the private sector, average daily earnings are 32.3 ILS (less than 10 USD).
The economic reality in Gaza today, where about half of the workforce is unemployed, is in part a result of severe movement and access restrictions Israel has imposed on Gaza for decades. Israel must desist from all measures of collective punishment, which block development in Gaza’s manufacturing sectors, among other effects. It must immediately allow the entry of all items needed not only for reconstruction, but also for industry and the maintenance and development of civilian infrastructure. Israel must also allow travel and only limit it based on reasonable considerations.