Happy Labor Day Jordan!

“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!


  • “what kind of jobs are being created? And the subsequent question of: are they sustainable?”

    Excellent question! I was trying to find an article I read last year about how the most sustainable economies in the world (largely northern Europe) also have the highest number of ‘small and medium’ sized businesses, which helps create a vibrant middle class. I couldnt find the article, but it does appear to me that all these ‘big’ corporations invited to invest in Jordan MAY reduce the unemployment figues, but since they offer a little more than the minimum wage because of the large number of employees, their effects in creating a healthy middle class are questionable to say the least!

    Well, maybe the strike in a couple of days will convince the government to raise the minimum wage, but that is probably overly optimistic…

  • Shoo ibis hay? El source?
    The question becomes: How many jordanian are leaving the country to work abroad (Person/Minute)? How secure is their work over there? Lets say Al-saud became angry with us, or maybe Al-saba7 decided that they no longer need their services? OK, let me say what if the Iran war became a reality, and lets say 300,000 of our expats in the gulf came back home?Hmmm…If history taught us something, it is that we can’t rely on our “brothers”, especially in times of crisis..By the way the term brotherhood in the arab world is a representation of the quality of the relation between the leaders 🙂

  • Maybe the best solution to all our problems is to just stop having so many babies, I think there should be a 3 children max policy… within 20 years we will be the new China, I guarantee it.

  • Nas this goes along with another fact i read in the paper 2 weeks ago; expats in Jordan are making some 700 Million US dollars in transactions abroad a year, nothing near the 3 Billions USD Jordanians expats abroad are sending back home, but still big amount, no?

  • You forgot one thing, more Jordanians are in need now of a second job to survive the higher costs of living. How can they find a second job when a lot others cannot get a first job?

    I hope the friendly European countries and the US will open up to Jordan and make it easier for us to obtain visas to live outside. We’re generally hard-working law-abiding people when it comes to living aborad, except maybe for peeing in publuic behind trees, and that could be the only solution. A lot of Jordanian men even the most anti-Western ones want to leave the hell out of Jordan.

  • Aside from the politics of this post, may I say that this blog contains some excellent social commentary; whether the subject be oil production, water shortages or the labour market, this blog presents the facts in a clean, concise manner. It’s a pleasure to be informed about Jordan here (especially being a non-Arabic speaking, Amman-resident).

    After reading your posts, I usually insert some facts or figures I learnt here into conversations with people about Jordan (citing “a very interesting blog” :P).

    Thanks a lot, Nas!


    Can I just ask, with all these unemployed Jordanians, how are so many foreigners taking available positions? I’ve heard that some Jordanians find it shameful to be, say, a building’s porter, but surely there’s more shame in having no job at all than not being able to put food on your family’s table?

  • Publicfacing: surprisingly it is not considered more shameful to be unemployed than to do menial labour (well until recently maybe because things seem to be slowly changing) and the reason for that is that if one is unemployed they can lounge about all day complaining about the government and unemployment, while citing their second rate university degree as the reason why the wont do just any job, until one day they finally get their wasta and secure a cushy government desk job where they can get paid to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee all day.

Your Two Piasters: