Facts & Figures
- In 2018, total unemployment rate in the Arab States registered 7.3 per cent with more than 4 million individuals seeking employment.
- Excluding the GCC - where large numbers of migrant workers work – the unemployment rate in the Middle East stands at 10.8 per cent, suggesting a particularly critical situation in the non-GCC countries, where political instability, active conflicts and security risks continue to undermine socio-economic development.
- One in five young men and women were out of work in 2018 in the Arab region, compared to a global youth unemployment rate of 11.8 per cent.
- The unemployment rate among Arab women is more than twice that of men, registering 15.6 per cent in 2018 compared to a male rate of 5.8 per cent.
- Labour force participation among women stands at 18.4 per cent relative to 77.2 per cent among Arab men. Interestingly, Arab men’s participation in the labour force is higher than the world average (74.9 per cent) whereas that of Arab women is incomparably lower (global average participation rate of women is 48 per cent).
- In addition to the 4 million unemployed individuals in the region, there are another 4.5 million persons in the potential labour force: people who are not in employment and a) are looking for a job but not yet available to work (unavailable jobseekers), or b) are available to work but are not looking (available potential jobseekers). This gives a tally of at least 9.5 million underutilized persons in the region, before accounting for those who are under-employed.
- In terms of quality of employment, it is estimated that more than 8 million workers in the Arab region lived in extreme or moderate poverty in 2018 while vulnerable employment constituted 15.4 per cent of total employment in the region.
- Informal employment is also relatively high, accounting for more than two thirds of the region’s total employment as of 2016.
- Comprehensive National Employment policies exist in only 4 countries of the Arab States region, namely Jordan, KSA, Iraq (including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq) and more recently the UAE.
13 September 2023
“This initiative has opened up the opportunity for me to access a loan so I can expand my business and cultivate more land” - Najim’s story
11 September 2023
Publications & Reports
This report by ESCWA and the ILO Regional Office for Arab States examines why Arab economies fail to create sufficient decent jobs. It provides guidance to policymakers, help reduce labour market deficits, especially in the formal private sector, and unlock the potential of the private sector to become a major driver for economic growth and the creation of decent employment across the region.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Labour Market in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: a Forecasting Model Assessment
The purpose of this report is to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market in the OPT, despite the lack of detailed data. Policy recommendations are provided based on the results of the analysis and with a view to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on the labour market in the OPT.
The COVID-19 pandemic emerged in Lebanon at a time when the country was grappling with its worst economic and financial crisis in decades. Lockdown measures have further hampered economic activity and left various groups of workers severely affected.
World Employment and Social Outlook 2021
This ILO flagship report explores how the contemporary platform economy is transforming the way work is organized, analyzing the impact of digital labour platforms on enterprises, workers and society as a whole.
Briefing Note with FAQs
Under this project, the ILO aims to provide technical assistance and support, as well as capacity building, in three priority areas agreed upon between the ILO and the Ministry of Labour and Social Development: boosting women’s employment and moving towards a more inclusive labour market; enhancing social dialogue mechanisms for better policy formulation; and assessing the child labour situation and developing actions for its elimination.
The ILO and the Palestinian Authority are working to create a policy framework and develop relevant mechanisms to improve the labour market and employment situation in the country.
Informal Economy and Vulnerability Sample Survey to assess the labour market impact of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon
The ILO is commissioning an Informal Economy and Vulnerability study in Lebanon to provide currently unavailable information on the supply and demand sides of Lebanon’s labour market, targeting the most vulnerable populations among Lebanese, Syrian Refugees and Palestinian Refugees.