Decline in unemployment is good, but more is needed — economists

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AMMAN — Jordan’s unemployment rate fell by 2.2 percent in the first quarter of this year to 22.8 percent, compared with the corresponding period in 2021, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.اضافة اعلان

In its quarterly report, the Department of Statistics said that the unemployment rate among men stood at 20.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared with 31.5 percent among women. It said unemployment fell by 3.7 percentage points, while it inched up by 3.0 percentage points among women.

Economists explained that the drop was expected under the gradual reopening of businesses following lockdowns under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahmad Al-Awad, founder and director of the Phoenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said the drop in unemployment rates “is expected and bodes well” with the revived economic activity.

He predicted that the rates “will continue to decline this year, especially with the gradual revival of the wheel of economy.”

Nonetheless, he pointed out that the decline “is small, especially since the labor market lost thousands of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, and because several sectors are not yet fully functional.”

Awad stressed the importance of stimulating the economy, partly through setting up mega projects to create jobs. He pointed to the national employment program, saying it may not have a significant impact, “especially since it links employers with employees directly and as needed, but does not create new opportunities for job seekers in general.”

Economist Hussam Al-Ayesh said that the drop in unemployment rate was expected “because the pace of economic performance returned to the pre-COVID-19 level, and the sectors regained their activity, which enabled workers to return to their work or get new jobs.”
... Since the labor market lost thousands of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, and because several sectors are not yet fully functional.

He said that programs, such as the National Employment Project, had little effect on unemployment. “They neither decreased, nor stabilized unemployment, and a clear evidence is that unemployment rates have raised in the past, despite the existence of such programs.”

Ayesh revealed that there was a “dangerous indicator”, which points to a “rise in unemployment figures among high school diploma holders and that unemployment among females is rising as well”.

He questioned the reasons for the decline in economic participation between males and females in 2022, compared with the previous year. “There are studies which show that there was supposed to be an increase, not a decrease,” he said.

Hamada Abu Nijmeh, head of the Jordanian Workers’ House, said although the decline reflected the return to business as usual, “the goal is to return to the rates that were before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not happened yet”.

Abu Nijmeh said that the decrease in unemployment “is good, but it is not enough.”

“What is required now is to stimulate the economy significantly, raise growth rates and establish mega projects in order to provide more job opportunities,” he added.

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