Kur­dis­tan must cre­ate 70k jobs an­nu­ally; un­em­ploy­ment will dou­ble in 10 years

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

An es­ti­mated 620,000 peo­ple re­main un­em­ployed in Iraq’s au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and that num­ber will more than dou­ble in a decade, a US pro­fes­sor with ex­per­tise on Iraq warned at a con­fer­ence in Er­bil on Wed­nes­day.

“My own re­search shows that, be­tween res­i­dents and refugees set­tled here, there are 620,000 un­em­ployed,” said Frank Gunter, pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at Le­high Univer­sity in the United States.

“I be­lieve that, of all the chal­lenges fac­ing the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, job cre­ation is the most se­ri­ous,” Gunter said dur­ing the First Eco­nomic Fo­rum of Er­bil’s Mid­dle East Re­search In­sti­tute (MERI).

He said that with 70,000 peo­ple try­ing to join the work force ev­ery year, the cur­rent num­ber of 620,000 un­em­ployed will more than dou­ble in a year. Start­ing now, the Kur­dish gov­ern­ment must cre­ate 70,000 an­nu­ally.

Most of those look­ing to join the work force ev­ery year – but fail­ing – are men, said Gunter, who is the au­thor of “The po­lit­i­cal econ­omy of Iraq: Restor­ing bal­ance in a post-con­flict so­ci­ety.”

“That is a desta­bi­liz­ing in­flu­ence. Young men want jobs, they want to get mar­ried. If they can’t do that, it leads to alien­ation and other prob­lems which lead to desta­bi­liza­tion. We have seen this in the United States and in other places,” said the Gunter.

The Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor said that Kur­dis­tan’s pop­u­la­tion of some 5.5 mil­lion – which has swollen to some 7 mil­lion due to the in­flux of war refugees from Syria and the in­ter­nally dis­placed from other parts of Iraq – is pre­dom­i­nantly un­der 14 years of age.

He warned that within a decade the num­ber of job seek­ers will have in­creased to 80,000 per year.

“That means that those look­ing for jobs in 2030 – less than 15 years from now – have been al­ready born,” he said.

The pro­fes­sor said that the prob­lem has been ex­ac­er­bated by the 1.8 mil­lion war refugees that have sought shel­ter in Kur­dis­tan. He added that the pres­sure on the Kur­dish gov­ern­ment to cre­ate jobs would ease once the refugees leave.

“But ex­pe­ri­ence from around the world has shown that refugees do not leave quickly. It will not take months for them to leave; it will take years, even a decade or more.”

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