Unemployment on the increase in the West Bank, UN report finds

By United Nations

Unemployment grew and purchasing power fell in the West Bank in the second half of last year, according to research released today by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, with more than one in four refugee workers out of a job.

“In the second half of 2010 unemployment grew much faster than employment, and the purchasing power of average working people's wages continued to decline in the face of persistently high unemployment rates and consumer price inflation,” the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a statement

released in Jerusalem.
“While there was modest employment growth, such growth was on the wane in 2010 while the number of unemployed accelerated in the second half of the year. Refugee labour force participation continued to recede, perhaps due to discouragement about job prospects, as refugee employment declined in this period,” said Salem Ajluni, author of the new research.

“The average broad refugee unemployment rate rose by more than a percentage point to 27.9 per cent, relative to first-half 2009 as compared to [the] 24.1 per cent rate for non-refugees.” Both employed refugees and non-refugees lost an average of about 3 per cent in real value of their wages, he added.

“The implications of these results are profound for the refugees served by UNRWA,” said agency spokesman, Chris Gunness. “The economic good news that the media have made much of in recent months overlooks deeper processes under way.”

“Refugee labour market conditions in particular regressed. The occupation and its related infrastructure such as settlements and settler-only roads that encroach on and divide Palestinian land, settler violence and the West Bank Barrier have diminished prospects for Palestinians in general and especially for refugees,” he said. “This is likely to raise the rate of aid dependency among refugees, placing ever greater pressures on UNRWA.”