Fifty-seven percent of young people in Gaza are unemployed. Women’s unemployment on the rise

Gaza's unemployment rate at 41.7 pecent.  Photo by Karl  Schembri

Gaza’s unemployment rate at 41.7 pecent. Photo by Karl Schembri

August 22, 2016. Gaza’s unemployment rate rose by half a percent in the second quarter of 2016, reaching 41.7%, compared to 41.2% in the previous quarter. According to figures released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, more than 203,000 individuals are currently unemployed in Gaza. To compare, the rate of unemployment in the West Bank is 18.3%.

One particularly alarming figure is the increasing rate of unemployment among young people (aged 15-29). Unemployment in this age bracket reached 57.6% in the second quarter, an increase of more than one percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Unemployment among women is worse still, standing at 65.3% in the second quarter, compared to 34.4% among men. Only 21.7% of women over 15 in Gaza participate in the work force. This quarter’s figure represents a drop compared to the previous quarter and a break in an otherwise upward trend in women’s participation in the work force. There was a significant increase in unemployment among women between the first and second quarters, from 62.6% to 65.3%, while the rate of unemployment among men participating in the work force remained the same.

Gaza’s construction sector, one of Gaza’s most significant sectors, is on the decline. The rate of persons employed in the sector has dropped to 4.7% of all jobs in Gaza, compared to 6.6% in the two previous quarters. The sector currently employs about 13,000 workers, compared to more than 24,000 during the same period in 2013. Delays and restrictions on the entrance of construction materials into the Gaza Strip contribute to the dire situation in a sector that could potentially help boost employment. It should be noted that the rate of employment in the sector is still higher than what it was in early 2015, just months after the 2014 military operation.

Among persons employed, 78.5% are salaried workers, 14% are self-employed, 3.3% are business owners. Only 0.7% of working women are business owners.