SOCIO-ECONOMIC REPORT - JANUARY 2011
Supplement: Youth Unemployment and Employment in the Gaza Strip1
The Unemployed Youth in Gaza
One in 5 persons in Gaza falls into the “youth” category, that is, the group between 15 and 24 years of age. Among those aged 15 to 19 years, only 8% participate in the labor market, but this proportion increases to 35% for the group between 20 and 24 years. Interestingly, these rates are lower than in the West Bank, where 18% of 15-to-19 year olds and 43% of 20-to-24 year olds are economically active.
In Gaza, 32% of men between 15 and 24 years participate in the labor force, but the rate is considerably lower for women in the same age group, 7%.
The situation is more serious for young women, whose unemployment rate is about 16 percentage points above that of young men.
When discouraged workers are counted, the youth unemployment rate rises from 67% to 75%. Discouraged workers are those who are willing and able to work but are too discouraged to actively look for work. These individuals believe they will not find employment even if they search because they think no work is available for them. One phenomenon closely associated with discouraged workers is long term unemployment.
The unemployed youth in Gaza on average faces a much longer period of unemployment than those in a similar situation in the West Bank. The duration of the period of unemployment of young men in Gaza is particularly striking, with an average of 22 months.
Long term unemployment (unemployment for a period of one year or longer) can have various adverse effects, such as substantial forgone income and the diminishing employability of the individual due to skills that are lost or become outdated. The emotional well-being of those unemployed for long periods and the people around them can also be negatively affected. Individuals can become discouraged after long periods of unemployment and stop looking for work altogether.
Furthermore, if current trends continue, the proportion of women seeking work outside the home could also rise over time, adding further pressure on the labor market. Young women’s overall labor force participation rate in Gaza shows some volatility but an overall increasing trend, rising from 7% in 2000 to 10% in 2009.
The working youth in Gaza engages is somewhat different economic activities than older workers. Most employed young persons in Gaza work in the service sector, followed by commerce and agriculture. This implies that the youth in Gaza is relatively more active in commerce and agriculture than older workers, and less active in services. Agriculture and commerce are the 2 lowest paying sectors in Gaza, on average, while services is the highest paying.
Distribution of Employed Persons Aged 15 to 24 Years by Status in Employment (Q3/2010)
Wage employees in Gaza may have less vulnerable employment than those in other categories, but their wages are, on average, low. The average daily net wage for young persons working in Gaza is only NIS39, equivalent to 65% of the average daily net wage in the West Bank and only 32% of the wage of those who work in Israel and settlements. The situation is worse for young men, who have an average daily net wage of NIS37, than for young women, whose average is NIS49.
Young wage employees in Gaza work for an average of 23.3 days a month, which suggests that the average monthly wage income of these workers is around NIS900, well below the poverty line.