Monday, December 12, 2011

Labour Market in the West Bank

12 December 2011.UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).There was continued and moderate employment growth in the West Bank in the first half of 2011. Overall employment increased at a rate of 4.3 percent relative to first-half 2010 with the private sector accounting for more than 90 percent of growth and with construction activity responsible for 70 percent of private sector job gains. The public sector shed jobs in this period. Indicators suggest an acceleration in economic activity in first-half 2011 relative to second-half 2010.

Unemployment grew at an even more rapid pace—8.3 percent on a year-on-year basis—with the broad unemployment rate rising marginally from 21.7 percent to 22.4 percent as labour force growth continued to outpace employment growth. Despite employment growth, and a marginally higher work effort on the part of the employed persons, the purchasing power of average monthly wages declined by 2.8 percent in this period. The persistence of historically high levels of unemployment continued to depress average real wages in the West Bank.
Refugees, in general, fared less well than non-refugees. Non-refugee employment, in the year-on-year comparison, increased by 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed non-refugees rising 7.5 percent. By contrast, refugee employment grew only 1.5 percent, while the number of unemployed among them rose by 10.3 percent. The average refugee unemployment rate in first-half 2011 was 27.4 percent, up from 25.5 percent in first-half 2010. In the same period, the non-refugee unemployment rate rose marginally from 20.4 percent to 20.9 percent. Average monthly wages in inflation-adjusted terms declined 2.3 percent for non-refugees and by 4.8 percent for refugees in this period. The average monthly non-refugee wage in real terms remained significantly higher than that of refugees.

A summary of trends in the West Bank labour market as a whole, and for refugees and non-refugees separately, is provided below. Section 1 provides overall findings regarding labour force participation, employment by sector and activity, unemployment and wages in the West Bank; Section 2 presents results for refugees and; Section 3 shows the findings for non-refugees.

The reference period is the first half of 2011. Sequential changes compare first-half 2011 with second-half 2010 and oftentimes includes significant seasonal fluctuations. Parallel changes compare first-half 2011 with first-half 2010 (a year-on-year comparison). The latter comparison largely eliminates seasonal fluctuations in the data.