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Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Unemployment rate holding (just about) steady

Unemployment in Egypt was virtually unchanged in 4Q2020, dipping only marginally to 7.2% from 7.3% in 3Q2020 and 8% in 4Q2019, according to figures released yesterday by state statistics agency Capmas. Although the drop was small, this is the second consecutive quarter during which the official unemployment rate eased after covid-19 caused the jobless count to spike in 2Q2020.

But, but, but: The labor force participation rate — which looks at those between the ages of 15 and 64 — stood at 43.5% in 4Q2020. This is an improvement both on a quarterly and annual basis. The participation rate was 41.1% in 3Q2020, and 43.1% in 4Q2019.

Not a bright spot: Women’s participation in the labor force is still stubbornly low at 16.1%, which is just 0.3 percentage points lower than during the comparable period in 2019, and is well above the 13.4% seen in 3Q2020.

Unemployment hit a near-two-year high in the second quarter last year: The partial lockdown of the economy and the closure of the country’s airspace to passenger flights pushed the unemployment rate up to 9.6%. Official jobless numbers have since fallen as the government eased restrictions on economic activity.

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