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Gov’t urged to review pandemic response measures amid spike in unemployment

By Sarah Abu Zaid - May 04,2021 - Last updated at May 04,2021

Unemployment rate reached 24.7 per cent in 2020 compared with 19.3 per cent in 2019, according to the Jordan Labour Watch (JT file photo)

AMMAN — Forty-eight per cent of all young people in Jordan are unemployed, according to a statement issued by the Jordan Labour Watch (JLW) of the Phenix Centre for Economics and Informatics Studies on Labour Day.

The JLW reported that during 2020, the Jordanian economy lost approximately 140,000 jobs, as a result of the COVID pandemic. Unemployment rates rose by 5.7 points in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared with the same period of time in 2019.

Unemployment rate reached 24.7 per cent in 2020 compared to 19.3 per cent in 2019. Female unemployment stood at 32.8 per cent compared to 22.6 per cent for males, according to the statement.

Director of the Phenix Centre for Economic Studies Ahmad Awad told The Jordan Times that “government response policies to the COVID pandemic have led to large drops in the wages of hundreds of thousands of workers in the private sector.”

“Wage levels in Jordan are known to be low compared to the high cost of living. According to figures, 64 per cent of registered employees in the Social Security Corporation receive monthly wages of JD500 or below,” Awad added.

Awad also noted that the crisis revealed “inadequate processes of social dialogue among various stakeholders — workers, employers, government and civil society organisations.”

The JLW called for “a review of the various government response policies to address the effects of the COVID pandemic on the labour market, with a view to provide adequate protection for workers,” according to Awad.

It recommended that “social security be reviewed as one of the most important components of the social protection system with the aim to develop new protective tools to include as many workers as possible in the framework of social security.”

Economist Wajdi Makhamreh told The Jordan Times that the continued closure of sectors will affect young people’s incomes and may lead to the loss of their employment and lead to a higher unemployment rate, especially among females.

“The lack of government support for the sectors and industries in which young people work will contribute to complicating economic problems and losing investments,” he said.

Makhamreh urged the government to vaccinate all people over the next two months, open up all sectors during the summer, and encourage tourism from overseas in order to reduce unemployment.

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