Egypt unemployment unchanged at 13.4% in Q1

Ahram Online, Wednesday 14 May 2014

Almost 70 percent of unemployed people are aged between 15 and 29, and more than 79 percent hold diplomas or university degrees

A man smokes a water pipe (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in the first quarter of 2014 at 13.4 percent, state-run statistics body CAPMAS announced.

Almost 70 percent of unemployed people were aged between 15 and 29, and more than 79 percent hold diplomas or university degrees.

The CAPMAS quarterly report released on Wednesday said that the persistence of high unemployment reflects an on-going slowdown in economic activity, especially in productive sectors such as industry, tourism and construction.

Egypt’s economy grew just 2.1 percent in 2013, despite two stimulus packages worth a total of LE60 billion ($8.6 billion).

When Egypt grew at 5.1 percent in 2010, the unemployment rate was 9 percent.

More than 1.4 million people either lost their jobs or entered the labour market in the four years leading to March 2014.

In April, the IMF said it expected the sluggish growth seen in 2013 to persist in 2014 as political uncertainty continues to weigh on tourism and foreign direct investment.

But despite the bleak forecast, the two contenders in Egypt’s presidential election promise to boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

Former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi promises to improve living standards within two years if he is elected.

El-Sisi's economic development plan will cost around LE1 trillion and be funded through donations from Egyptian expats, gulf countries financial assistance and private sector investments.

Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahi promises a greater role for the state and a revival of state-owned businesses.

The report showed that almost a third of the employed work in the agriculture and fishing sector, while manufacturing and construction sectors each employ around 11 percent.

Urban unemployment is as high as 16.5 percent while in rural Egypt it is around 11 percent.

The labour force totals 27.6 million people.

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