Unemployment in Gaza Reached 49% during Third Quarter of 2020

According to figures released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Gaza’s unemployment rate increased by 3.5% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter last year, and now stands at 48.6%. This is a slight drop of 0.5% compared to the second quarter of 2020, apparently due to the lifting of restrictions imposed within the Gaza Strip by local authorities in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

World Health Organization humanitarian aid to the Occupied Palestinian Territories

World Health Organization humanitarian aid to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Photo: OCHA)

The rate of participation in Gaza’s workforce for people above the age of 15 was 35.4%, a 3% increase from the previous quarter. The number of women employed in Gaza increased from 28,900 in the second quarter to 30,600 in the third. However, the proportion of women in Gaza who participate in the workforce now stands at 14.5%, roughly an 18% drop compared to the same quarter in 2019, and a dramatic 40% decrease compared to the third quarter of 2018. The gap between unemployment in Gaza and in the West Bank remains significant, with 48.6% unemployment in Gaza compared to 18.7% in the West Bank. The unemployment rate among women is 65% in the Gaza Strip compared to 32.3% in the West Bank.

Public sector employees account for 40.5% of Gaza’s job market. Many of these workers have part-time positions that earn them an average of NIS 92 ($US 27.5) per day. Private sector employees, who account for 52% of Gaza’s job market, earn an average of NIS 32 ($US 9.5) per day, which is lower than the minimum wage in the Strip.

According to the NGO Gisha – The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, “Israel’s decision to continue denying almost all travel via the Erez Crossing, including for merchants and laborers, at a time when Gaza is most vulnerable to the impact of the global financial crisis spurred by the pandemic, is further straining Gaza’s fragile economy and undermining already dire conditions for its residents.”

On Friday, November 20, a record high for daily positive testing of new coronavirus cases was reported in the Gaza Strip, reaching nearly 900, according to Palestinian Minister of Health Mai Alkaila.

Alkaila said that four deaths were reported in Gaza in the last 24 hours as a result of coronavirus and 10 in the West Bank, as Gaza recorded 891 new cases while the West Bank had 595, including 212 in the Nablus district, 95 in the Ramallah district and 91 in the Bethlehem district. No data was available from East Jerusalem. Alkaila said 225 patients had recovered during that same 24 hour period in the Gaza Strip and 279 in the West Bank, bringing the recovery rate to 84.94% of the total corona cases recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in March.

Active cases increased to 14.22% of the total with a sharp rise of new cases in the Gaza Strip over the past few days. Deaths represented 0.84% of the total. According to the minister, 51 patients are getting treatment in intensive care units, among them nine who are on respirators.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA), Gaza accounts for 39% of all currently active cases, followed by Nablus (17%), Bethlehem (9%), Hebron (6%), and Ramallah (5.8%). A new OCHA report says: “The official figures are believed to significantly underestimate the actual number of people who have contracted the virus, due to the policy implemented in West Bank by the Ministry of Health, whereby only those showing possible symptoms, as well as travelers, are being tested. According to the ministry, the true number of cases may be as much as three times higher than the official figure. The continuing increase in cases is attributed to people not abiding by preventive measures and continuing to attend public events, such as wedding celebrations.

Related: OCHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 22 (3-17 November 2020)