“In order to prevent unemployment rates from rising in Jordan, we have to create 80,000 jobs annually, or, in other words, a job every seven minutes,”. These words were recently spoken by HM Queen Rania at the opening of a conference in Amman on unemployment.
I always found labor day in Jordan to be a bit ironic. What’s it really about? A day off? From what? For whom? According to unofficial numbers, unemployment in the country is as high as 30%, and the remaining people who are employed don’t make over 200JD’s a month.
Imagine, creating 80,000 jobs annually just to combat unemployment in a country this small. Where the costs of living are staggering and the standards of living are dwindling. It seems all the “big” development deals happening, which are being sold as avenues to employment opportunity, seem to center mainly on housing, which is in itself, another problem in the country.
But I digress, so allow me keep the Queen’s words in context.
We need 80,000 new jobs annually just to prevent unemployment from increasing (i.e. not to decrease it).
Currently, the country is creating 55,000 jobs every year.
53% of those jobs are going to non-Jordanians; mostly Egyptians. ibid.
So not only are we falling beneath the quota of the “necessary” amount of jobs needed just to keep unemployment figures stable, but most of those jobs created are going to non-Jordanians anyway.
Or in other words: only 25,850 jobs for Jordanians are being created, which is less than a third of what is “needed”.
This is to say nothing of the obvious question that begs itself: what kind of jobs are being created? And the subsequent question of: are they sustainable?
So it’s labor day.
And to make things even more ironic: I’m at work.
The universe is just too ironic sometimes.
Happy Labor day fellow Jordanian laborers!