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Lebanon jobless rate almost triples since crisis

Unemployment rate hit nearly 30% at start of 2022

By AFP - May 13,2022 - Last updated at May 13,2022

In this file photo taken on April 26, Lebanese protesters rally against the draft law on capital control, outside the parliament building in downtown Beirut (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — The official unemployment rate in crisis-hit Lebanon jumped almost three-fold to reach 29.6 per cent at the start of the year, a joint survey by the UN and the government said Thursday.

"Lebanon's unemployment rate increased from 11.4 per cent in 2018-2019 to 29.6 per cent in January 2022, indicating that almost one third of the active labour force was unemployed in January 2022," it said.

After years of corrupt practices and financial mismanagement, Lebanon's economy collapsed two years ago, stripping the national currency of 95 per cent of its value and sending poverty rates soaring.

The rare survey released by Lebanon's Central Administration of Statistics and the International Labour Organisation, a UN agency, said the informal economy accounted for around 60 per cent of employment.

It said one of the most alarming findings was the huge growth in “underutilised labour” from 16.2 percent in 2018-2019 to 50.1 per cent in January 2022, referring to people available to work more hours than they do.

The issue of unemployment has not featured prominently in the campaigns led by the main parties fielding candidates in Sunday’s parliamentary election.

In its initial rescue deal reached with the government last month, the International Monetary Fund urged Lebanon to reform its bloated public sector, which employs around a quarter of the working population.

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