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.
International Labour Standards
- Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122)
- Employment Service Convention, 1948 (No. 88)
- Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181)
- Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100)
- Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 (No. 131)
- Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, 2017 (No. 205)
- Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204)
Guides and information materials
Publications & Reports
As the Syrian refugee crisis continues, the ILO Regional Office for the Arab States has adopted a cross-cutting development-focused strategy in Lebanon and Jordan which supports both refugees and host community residents in order to preserve social and economic stability as well as realise the rights of both to decent work and social justice.
This report provides an overview of global and regional trends in employment, unemployment, labour force participation and productivity.
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.