The rate of unemployment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) rose in 2018 to about 31% of the participants in the labor force compared to about 28% in 2017. In absolute terms, the number of unemployed individuals increased from 377,000 in 2017 to 426,000 in 2018, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in an announcement made to mark International Workers’ Day.
The PCBS announced that unemployment increase sharply by 8% in the Gaza Strip (52% of the work force compared with a jobless rate of 42% in 2017). In contrast, the rate of unemployment in the occupied West Bank decreased slightly from 19% in 2017 to 18% in 2018. Taken together, the overall unemployment rate for 2018 rose to 31%
The PCBS reported that, in the besieged Gaza Strip, the district of Khan Younis registered the highest rate of unemployment, about 58%, followed by Deir al-Balah with a rate of about 57%. Gaza City had the lowest rate of joblessness, about 48%.
In the West Bank, the districts of Jenin and Bethlehem registered the highest unemployment with a rate of about 21%, followed by the district of Hebron, about 20%. The lowest rate of joblessness in the West Bank was in the district of Qalqiliya, about 7%, followed by the district of Jerusalem with a rate of 11%.
By age, the highest rate of unemployment was recorded among youth 19 to 29 years old, about 44% (27% in the West Bank and 69% in Gaza Strip). Young graduates of higher education are the subgroup suffering most from unemployment, with a rate of about 58% (40% in the West Bank and 78% in Gaza Strip).
By area of professional specialization, young graduates who hold associate diploma certificates or higher and those who trained for careers in science, or other academicians who completed courses to become teachers have the highest rate of unemployment, about 76%. These were followed by graduates of studies in Mass Media and Information, with a rate of about 69%. Graduates who completed their studies in law recorded the lowest rate of unemployment, about 29%. In addition, 35% of individuals 15 years and older who suffer disabilities but are participants of labor force remained unemployed.
The number of working Palestinians living in the OPT was 954,000 (573,000 in the West Bank, 254,000 in the Gaza Strip, and 127,000 working in Israel or the Israeli settlements). Of these, 665,000 OPT residents were salaried employees, 353,000 of them work in the West Bank, 198,000 in the Gaza Strip, 93,000 have jobs in Israel, and 21,000 are employed in the Israeli settlements.
The number of salaried employees in the private sector reached 350,000, (245,000 in the West Bank and 105,000 in Gaza Strip),or about 53% of those earning monthly wages compared with 30% employed in the public sector. About 17% of all salaried employees residing in the OPT work in Israel or the Israeli settlements, and they comprise about 32% of the salaried employees from the West Bank.
The labor force participation rate for individuals aged 15 years and above was 46% in all the Palestinian territories (72% for males and 21% for females). For the West Bank, the rate of labor participation was 46% (74% for males and 18% for females), compared to 47% in Gaza Strip (68% for males and 26% for females).
About 25% of salaried employees in the territories work as professionals or technicians, 15% of the working males and 70% of the employed females. In addition, 18% of salaried employees in the Palestinian territories work in craft and related trades, representing 21% of the working males and 2% of the females.
The average daily real wage in the private sector in the territories was about 70 Israeli shekels (just under $US 20, as 3.60 Israeli shekels is equal to $US 1), about 45 shekels ($US 12.50) in the Gaza Strip and about 93 shekels ($US 26) in the West Bank. These averages do not include the real daily wage for Palestinians employed in Israel and the settlements.
Construction activity in the private sector recorded the highest average daily real wage of about 104 shekels ($US 29) in the West Bank and 42 shekels ($US 11.66) in the Gaza Strip. This was followed by those employed in the service sector with and average of 103 shekels ($US 28.60) in the West Bank and 78 shekels ($US 21.66) in the Gaza Strip. Agricultural laborers earned the lowest average daily wage: 73 shekels ($US 20) in the West Bank and 21 shekels ($US 5.80) in the Gaza Strip.
About 33% of salaried employees in the private sector earned less than the monthly minimum wage of 1,450 shekels (about $US 400). These super-exploited workers accounted for about 13% of salaried employees in the West Bank, their average monthly wage being 1,076 shekels (about $US 300). In the Gaza Strip 80% of the private sector employees (about 75,400 persons) fell into this category of super-exploited and received an average monthly wage of 671 shekels ($US 186).
The average number of hours worked weekly by salaried employees in the Palestinian territories was 42, 40 hours for public sector workers, and 43 hours for salaried employees in the private sector.
About two-thirds (65%) of employed persons in the territories are classified working in “informal employment,” 70% in the West Bank and 50% in the Gaza Strip. Consequently, only 25% of private sector salaried employees receive benefits (pension funding, severance benefits, paid annual leave and paid sick leave); 43% of salaried women receive paid maternity leave. Furthermore, only 27% of the salaried employees in the private sector have formal work contracts, and only 20% of salaried employees in the Palestinian territories are affiliated with trade unions.