Labour Force Survey

Yemen publishes first labour force survey in over 15 years

The ILO and the Central Statistical Organization of Yemen have compiled the most up-to-date reading of the labour force in the country which shows falling labour force participation and rising unemployment, particularly among the youth and women.

News | 27 October 2015

SANAA (ILO NEWS) - Yemen released its first comprehensive labour force survey in over 15 years on Tuesday (October 27), revealing a rise in unemployment and a fall in the proportion of the working age population that are economically active. The unemployment rate was found to have risen to 13.5 per cent by 2014 compared to 11.5 per cent in 1999 while the labour force participation rate fell from 45.9 per cent of the working age population to 36.3 per cent over the same period.1 Using updated international statistical standards, the Yemen Labour Force Survey 2013-14 was released after a multi-year process of data collection and analysis jointly conducted by the ILO and Central Statistical Organization (CSO) of Yemen. 


“The survey confirms that, even before the current conflict, labour market conditions were deteriorating,” said Frank Hagemann, Acting Regional Director of the ILO Regional Office for the Arab States. “Given that youth dominate the population, all parties must realise that if the current circumstances persist, another Yemeni generation will lose out on decent work and a chance at a better life.”


According to the survey, youth (age 15-24) unemployment stood at 24.5 per cent, nearly twice the national average. In addition, almost double the amount of youth who are unemployed are also not in education or training (45 per cent). 

Source: Yemen Labour Force Survey 2013-14, Central Statistical Organization, Yemen

“What the survey has also brought to light is the striking mismatch between the level of qualifications attained and the position that employed persons hold,” said Patrick Daru, Senior Skills and Employability Specialist at the ILO ROAS. “This may either be because workers do not have the skills for the jobs, or because the skills they acquired on the labour market are not acknowledged through certification. This in turn contributes to information failures that affect the job matching and recruitment processes.”

The survey also found that out of all Yemeni women of working age, only 4.5 were employed. The female unemployment rate (26.1 per cent) was also found to be over twice that of men (12.3 per cent). On average, women earned 40,400 Yemeni Rials (US$188) a month, compared to 53,300 (US$248) among men and a national average monthly wage of 52,500 Rials (US$244).


 “Any attempt to reverse the trend of rising unemployment must first address labour market challenges faced by women and the youth in Yemen,” said Hagemann. “To do so, the implementation of the UN-brokered peace deal agreed upon this month will need to be instituted alongside labour market-oriented labour reforms that target the most vulnerable segments of the working age population.” 


The Yemen Labour Force Survey 2013-2014 sampled 13,376 households over four quarters of a year. The compilation of the report was supported by the Silatech initiative and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.


Key Figures from the Yemen Labour Force Survey 2013-2014:


  • Unemployment rate: 13.5 per cent
  • Female unemployment rate: 26.1 per cent
  •  Male unemployment rate: 12.3 per cent
  • Youth unemployment rate: 24.5 per cent

 Labour force participation

  • Labour force participation rate: 36.3 per cent
  • Female labour force participation rate: 6.0 per cent
  • Male labour force participation rate: 65.4 per cent
  • Youth labour force participation rate: 25.8 per cent

Education level of labour force

  • Tertiary education: 7.9 per cent
  • Secondary education: 23.0 per cent
  • Primary education: 68.6 per cent

Employment by sector

  • Services: 55.6 per cent
  • Trade: 22.7 per cent
  • Agriculture: 29.2 per cent
  • Industry: 14.5 per cent
  • Public Administration: 12.7 per cent


  • Average hours worked per week: 44 hours
  • Average hours worked per week (Female): 34 hours
  • Average hours worked per week (Male): 45 hours
  • Average hours worked per week (Youth): 45 hours


  • Average monthly earnings: 52,500 Yemeni Rials (US$244)
  • Average monthly earnings (Female): 40,400 Yemeni Rials (US$188)
  • Average monthly earnings (Male): 53,300 Yemeni Rials (US$248)
  • Average monthly earnings (Youth): 34,500 Yemeni Rials (US$161)

Other figures

  • Informal sector employment: 73.2 per cent 
  • Working-age population: 13.4 million
  • Employed population: 4.2 million persons


[1] The Yemen Labour Force Survey 2013-2014 employed statistical standards commensurate with the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) (Geneva, October 2013). If the standards of the 13th ICLS were applied the corresponding unemployment rate and labour force participation rate would equal 12 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively.