Nearly 1 in 5 Jordanians is unemployed, government says

Unemployment among women rose to 28.9 per cent, Taylor Luck reports from Amman

Investor rating agency Fitch assigns "BB-" to Jordan's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating. EPA
Investor rating agency Fitch assigns "BB-" to Jordan's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating. EPA

Jordan’s unemployment reached near-record highs according to figures released on Sunday, as the government moved to commit a half-billion Jordanian dinars (Dh2.5 billion) to a new social safety net.

According to a report released by the government's department of statistics, unemployment in the kingdom rose to 19 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, up from 18.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Unemployment among women rose to 28.9 per cent, up 3.1 points from late 2018, while the jobless rate among men dipped slightly from 16.9% to 16.4% over the same period.

It marks the second-highest unemployment rate ever recorded in the resource-strapped kingdom, second only to the 19.7 per cent jobless rate in 1993.

The Jordanian government has repeatedly stated that boosting women’s employment is key to its economic plan, in recognition that a single average salary of JD400 (Dh2,071) per month is no longer sufficient for a household.

Women’s economic participation rate currently hovers at 15 per cent, one of the lowest rates in the world.

Meanwhile, the government is committing JD500 million to its revamped social safety net from this year until 2021, as Amman attempts to lift over 150,000 families out of poverty and remove obstacles for Jordanians entering the work force.

The government is committing funds to its national social protection strategy, launched last week, to provide direct and in-kind assistance for 187,000 families in the areas of rent support, energy, transportation and health, according to a statement from the Minister of social development Basma Ishaqat.

A key pillar of the safety net is transport for 10,000 families. In a recent study by Jordanian NGO Sadaqa and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation, 80 per cent of women cited transport as an obstacle and 47 per cent of women had refused a job offer due to a lack of transport.

The government launched online registration for cash and in-kind assistance last Thursday at reg.takmeely.jo, and will accept applications for a one-month period. According to the government, the average cash assistance allotted per household will be around JD130 per month.

Updated: June 2, 2019 04:17 PM

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