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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
13 June 2011



The Gaza labour market in second-half 2010 (H2 2010) showed growth in employment and unemployment relative to H2 2009. Comparing first-half 2010 (H1 2010) and H2 2010, however, suggests the return of negative trends, with job losses, higher levels of unemployment and higher unemployment rates. This was in the context of declining labour force participation among refugees in particular. Despite employment gains, nominal and real wages continued to deteriorate under the weight of persistently high unemployment rates.

Despite marginal easing of the Israeli blockade, most employment growth between H2 2009 and H2 2010 was generated by the public sector. After declining in H2 2009, as thousands of temporary hires for the post-Gaza war relief effort were released, the public sector resumed hiring. Construction employment was the main source of job generation in the private sector, with agriculture and transport also contributing to job growth. Job losses were greatest in private services (which include UN and NGO employment) but also significant in commerce and manufacturing.

Refugee labour force participation continued to decline while that of non-refugees rose in the year-on-year comparison. Refugee employment declined while that of non-refugees surged. Refugee unemployment increased while that for non-refugees declined. Unemployment rates for refugees rose while those for non-refugees fell. Average wages continued to fall, but refugee wages remained substantially above those of non-refugees. At 45.2 percent, the broad unemployment rate in Gaza remained among the highest in the world in H2 2010. The combination of persistently high unemployment and the continuing deterioration of the real wages of working people underlie significant levels of poverty

Details on these trends for the entire Gaza Strip labour force, and for refugees and non-refugees separately, appear below. Section 1 provides overall findings regarding labour force participation, employment by sector and activity, unemployment and wages in Gaza. Section 2 presents results for refugees, and Section 3 outlines findings for non-refugees. All data come from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

The reference period is H2 2010. Sequential changes compare H2 2010 with H1 2010 and are subject to seasonal fluctuations. In tables, sequential changes appear under the column “+/- (Seq.)”. Parallel changes compare H2 2010 with H2 2009. This comparison mostly eliminates seasonal fluctuations in the data and in tables appears under the column “+/- (Par.)”. Sequential and parallel changes in rates of labour force participation and unemployment are relative – not absolute – changes.

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