Labor Day marred by nearly 50% youth unemployment

140,000 jobs lost in 2020, according to Jordan Labor Watch

(Photo: shutterstock)
AMMAN — On the eve of Labor Day, Jordan Labor Watch released a report finding that 48 percent of youth — those between 19 and 24 years of age who are not enrolled in higher education — are unemployed. The report also found that the Jordanian economy lost almost 140,000 jobs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. اضافة اعلان

“The crisis has proven that there are major deficiencies in the social protection system for workers in Jordan, as nearly half of the workforce is not protected by any form of social protection,” said Jordan Labor Watch through in their statement.

The statement also claimed that “the government response policies to the coronavirus pandemic have led to a decrease in the wages of hundreds of thousands of workers in the private sector” due to permitted decreases in wages for workers in the most affected sectors.

Already-high rates of unemployment have spiked during the pandemic. The Department of Statistics recorded a 19 percent unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2019 — before the pandemic — which rose to almost a quarter (24.7 percent) in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In an interview with Jordan News, Ahmad Awad, director of the Phenix Center for Economic studies, said that a high rate of unemployment, particularly among youth, “will impact negatively the stability of Jordan — the social stability, economic stability, and ... political stability.” 

Research has found that youth unemployment is associated with political violence and armed conflict in developing countries, particularly when youth have low rates of education. High rates of unemployment, particularly among youth, were attributed as one of the causes of the Arab Spring protests in 2011.

Awad also suggested a link between unemployment and poor working conditions. He described the working conditions in the informal sectors especially, where migrant workers tend to outnumber Jordanians, as “very poor. No social security. No stability in jobs. And most workers are daily workers, short-term workers. The government should reorganize these types of jobs in order to encourage Jordanian workers to work in these sectors.” So, providing better working conditions could both improve workers’ health and lifestyles and reduce unemployment in the country. 

“Improving working conditions means increasing the opportunities for Jordanians to engage,” he said, recommending that jobs be improved through higher wages, inclusion in the Social Security Corporation, and provision of long-term contracts. 

According to Awad, the Jordanian government is “not interested in putting pressure on the private sector.” He said that the government is “encouraging the private sector at the price of working conditions.”

The Ministry of Labor congratulated Jordanian workers on Labor Day, assuring “them that it is their first home that takes care of their affairs and preserves their rights in accordance with the labor law and the regulations and instructions issued pursuant to it” in a message sent to Jordan News.

The ministry addressed the high rate of unemployment in the country. “For this, (the) ministry worked to implement defense orders to ensure the sustainability of job opportunities in the private sector,” a ministry representative said in a statement. 

He added that since the beginning of the pandemic, the ministry has received 86,472 complaints and inquiries concerning 21,093 establishments, 90 percent of which were solved by the ministry’s teams. 

These complaints included low wages, late wages, and illegal termination. Individuals can register their complaints through the “Hemaya” platform on the ministry’s website or through the Ministry’s phone number and social media platforms. 

The Ministry of Labor added that through a program implemented by the Social Security Corporation during the first three months of 2021, “100,000 workers were preserved in their work, and 6,300 establishments benefited from it during this period.” Additionally, the Ministry claimed that it “succeeded in returning 5,716 workers to their work out of 9,250 workers whose services were terminated.”

“The ministry is always keen for the work to operate in a decent work environment and to pay their wages and rights without any encroachment on them,” said the representative.

Labor Day is an international holiday with its roots in the American labor union movement, particularly the fight for the eight-hour workday. The holiday aligns with International Workers’ Day which is also referred to as May Day; both holidays celebrate laborers, the working classes, and international labor movements. 

Source: department of statistics • JNews graphics

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