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United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)
30 June 2010
Since 1996 UNSCO has continually monitored and reported on socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the process established an extensive socio-economic database. UNSCO does not create raw data but rather uses available data which, in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is relatively abundant. However, the data that is available tends to remain dispersed and is not always automatically shared between institutions. The objective of the database is to bring together in one place a wide variety of data on socio-economic conditions and by doing so present a broader, more detailed perspective on socio-economic conditions. The purpose of this report is to: 1) broaden the access to this database through publication of the most recent data gathered; and 2) provide readers with up to date information on socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The report is divided into four sections:
Section 1 consists of a one-page fact sheet which provides a snapshot view of the socio-economic situation for the current and previous reporting period and it provides, for reference purposes, base line figures for the period just prior to the outbreak of the second
Sections 2 and 3 report on the macro-economic situation and the economic activity throughout the oPt, including private sector and banking activity. Section 4 focuses on access of goods in and out of the Gaza strip. All sections provide data on the last six reporting periods for each indicator as well as base line data, which is pre
. In addition, summary analysis on observed trends is presented below each table.
In addition, this month’s report includes an analysis of the unemployment situation in Gaza, based on a desk review of recent research and field interviews with relevant stakeholders in Gaza
Unemployment in the Gaza Strip
Unemployment rates throughout the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) witnessed a significant decrease in the first quarter of 2010, dipping from 24.8 % in the last quarter of 2009 to 22.0%
in the first quarter of 2010. In the West Bank the rate decreased from 18.1% to 16.5% while in Gaza
Strip, the rate decreased from 39.3 % to 33.9%.
It is worth noting, at the same time, that underemployment
increased from 6.6% to 6.8%. While the rate showed a slight decrease in the West Bank (from 7.1% to 6.1%) underemployment in Gaza increased from 5.4 % to 8.1%.
In the Gaza Strip, increases in employment were recorded mostly in the sectors of Agriculture, Mining and Construction while the sectors of Commerce, Restaurants and Hotels and other services experienced a decline in their employment rate.
Underemployment exists when a person's employment is inadequate in relation to alternative employment, account being taken of his/her occupational skills( PCBS).
Recent research and interviews with the business community in Gaza have highlighted the following Factors for the recent decrease in unemployment:
Economic activity benefited first and foremost from significant cash injections from multiple sources such as regular salary payments by PA and the and authorities in Gaza, cash support to vulnerable households by the international community donors (European Union, World Bank, UNRWA and others) and PA cash transfers to the poor families.
The end of the 2009 and beginning of 2010 also marked the peak of the tunnel activity (, notably due to rumors of the Egyptian “iron wall” on the Gaza border); while tunnel activity itself has proven to be a large employment generation scheme, there is significant evidence that merchants were stocking goods at increased levels to ensure availability of goods in the event that tunnels would be closed.
In the absence of significant reconstruction and implementation of pledged assistance, a number of households and businesses initiated “home grown” coping strategies, including the registration of new businesses, and house renovations using material coming in through the tunnels.
At the same time, a number of small scale donor projects did get underway in late 2009 and early 2010, generating short to medium term employment activity (through Cash for Work schemes, and in agriculture for target groups and renewed economic activity for a range of suppliers.
The recent policy decision from the Government of Israel should generate a number of “shift” in the economic patterns of the Gaza Strip. In particular, tunnels should now focus their “activity” towards importing materials that remain prohibited or on the “dual use” list such as cement and construction materials. At the same time, increase entry of other items has already led to a decrease in prices of materials such as furniture, glass, and aluminum.
However, most economic experts believe that in the absence of large scale implementation of infrastructure Projects and the resumption of exports, which would support private sector revitalization significant Changes in unemployment rates will remain seasonal and circumstantial at best, and that sustained economic development for Gaza’s growing population will remain difficult to achieve.