Social & Community

Unemployment and Poverty Rate in Yemen Highest in the Middle East

By Wafa Alkhazzan

The majority of Yemenis suffer from harsh economic and social conditions imposed by political conflicts between the opposing parties in the country which «half the population needs for humanitarian aid», according to UN estimates.

Whereas Yemen faces a variety of developmental challenges resulting from high population growth, and increased demand for social services, water for drinking and employment opportunities.

Yemen has faced the unemployment issue for an extensive time, which led to the increase in the poverty rate especially for the past two years after the revolution.  We have witnessed the highest unemployment rates in the Middle East and North Africa, amid expectations of a rise among young people greatly under the spread of poverty and malnutrition, according to a recent report by the World Bank, unemployment reached 17% in 2010, and the ratio of females to over 54% and 12% among males, and remained high among adolescent crowds to reach 60%, especially after the revolution in 2011.

According to the report, the increase of poverty in Yemen after the crisis in 2011 is due to poor management of the economy and the weakness of political unity and displaced Yemenis as a result of the power struggle and increased number of refugees fleeing their crisis in neighboring countries.

During the revolution in Yemen in 2011, the country entered a stage of political and economic transition, but the consequences of the revolution caused major disruptions in production, and economic activity, and employment opportunities are carrying many companies to liquidate their businesses. The Yemeni economy is stuck in a slow growth cycle that is generating employment opportunities which has led to the stagnation of per capital income and high levels of unemployment, especially among young people.

Where the proportion of people living on less than $ 1.25 per person per day, since 1998, from about 13% to 17% in 2010, and has become nearly half the population living on less than two dollars per person per day.

Dr. Taha Faseel adviser to the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Yemen, also a professor of economics at the University of Sanaa, said that the Yemeni revolution appears originally due to poor economic conditions as a result of high unemployment, high inflation rates, in addition to the high rate of poverty, which reached the statistic in 2008 before the revolution to 45%, but current estimates for 2011 in light of the current crisis suggests that the poverty rate exceeded 75%.

In addition, many young people holding a bachelor’s degree and with high efficiency did not earn the right to employment and livelihood because of the weakness and corruption of the state that has been occurring during the past two years. The chance for poor people in gaining employment is very few because of the exploitation of the state to employ people whom have mediation depending on them whereas the poor do not have it as easy.