Workers remove leather from a machine in the factory at El Robbiki Leather City in Badr City, east of Cairo, Egypt, August 14, 2017 (Reuters)
The unemployment rate in Egypt has declined to 7.3 percent in the third quarter of 2020, compared to 9.6 percent in the second quarter of the year at the peak of coronavirus cases in Egypt, the cabinet’s media office said in a report on Tuesday.
The current unemployment figures also represent a decline from 7.7 percent in Q1 of the year when Egypt recorded 710 cases only by the end of March.
Unemployment rate among males sharply declined from 8.5 percent in Q2 of 2020 to 5.8 percent in Q3. Among females, unemployment declined from 16.2 percent in Q2 of 2020 to 15.2 percent in Q3.
The report attributed the state’s success in reducing unemployment to many reasons, including continuing to implement around 9,000 developmental and service projects in all sectors, valued at EGP 2 trillion, with the implementation timeframe set to end in June 2021.
Reopening airports and tourist resorts and receiving tourist groups after months of suspension, in line with the decline of coronavirus cases in July 2020, also contributed to reducing unemployment, the report said.
The coronavirus crisis and the lockdown have negatively affected the employment rate, due to the suspension of sport events, flights, and artistic shows, the imposition of a night curfew, and the reduction of government employees’ attendance.
The report also referred to the decision taken in March to fully close cafes and parks, as well as all sport clubs, and the partial close of shops, restaurants, and shopping centres.
The report noted that coronavirus infections reached their peak in Egypt last June.
Employed people has increased by 8.3 percent from 24.12 million in Q2 of 2020 to 26.11 million in Q3 of the year, the report said, adding that the number of unemployed people decreased by 19.8 percent from 2.57 million in Q2 of 2020 to 2.06 million in Q3 of the year.
The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed people by the number of people in the labor force in the same country or area.
In October, the World Bank said around 2.7 million jobs were lost in Egypt during Q4 of the fiscal year 2019/2020 — between April and June.
In a televised speech on 7 April during an inspection tour of the Armed Forces' personnel and equipment, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said he is not in favour of suspending work in the country due to the coronavirus.
The virus at that point had infected only 1,322 people and killed 85 — now 122,086 and 6,943, respectively.
“I don’t agree with suspending work completely in all sectors… it is dangerous… but we must take all pre-emptive measures.”
"There are millions of people working for the state... but we have reduced the numbers… and suspended universities and schools… so we have removed the necessity for about 20 million people to be in crowded places.”
"If you [government institutions] want to work with only 50 percent [of the workforce] or less... it is possible... especially with seniors and women."
He also called on the private sector to not touch their workers' salaries or lay them off during these conditions.
“The government did not reduce employees’ salaries, and I ask the private sector to do the same. We have called on the government to continue working with limited employment without affecting pay.”