Unemployment in Gaza on the rise

Construction workers in Gaza. Photo by Iman Mohammed

Construction workers in Gaza. Photo by Iman Mohammed

November 20, 2016. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics published its employment figures for the third quarter of 2016, which paint a troubling picture of continually rising unemployment rates, and a stagnating economy. Gaza’s unemployment rose from 41.7% in the previous quarter to 43.2%, in the third quarter. Unemployment in the West Bank was much lower (though still high) standing at 19.6%.

Unemployment is particularly high among young people, with more than 60% of those aged 15-29 taking part in the labor force yet unable to find work. Among women, unemployment is 68.6% compared to 35.4% among men. This is also a spike from 65.3% unemployment among women in the previous quarter. The rate of participation in the workforce in Gaza rose in the third quarter, reaching 46.2%. These are individuals who had worked for at least one hour in the week prior to the data collection, or were looking for work.

This quarter there was a rise in the percentage of employees employed in Gaza’s construction sector: 7.2% of all employees, compared to 4.7% in the previous quarter. The decline in the rate of employment in this sector in the second quarter was likely the result of restrictions Israel imposed on the entry of construction materials into the Gaza Strip. The hospitality and commerce sector in Gaza accounted for 21.1% of all employees, industry, quarrying and mining for 7.2%, transport, storage and communications for 7.1% and farming and fishing for 4.5%. The remaining 52.9% work in services and other sectors.

Of the people employed in Gaza, 78.6% are salaried employees, 13% are self-employed, 4.4% are business owners and 4% work for a family business without pay.