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Marking International Workers’ Day, PCBS says COVID-19 left its mark on the Palestinian labor market

RAMALLAH, Thursday, April 29, 2021 (WAFA) – On the occasion of the International Workers’ Day, which coincides on May 1, the president of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Ola Awad, said the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the Palestinian economy significantly, especially the labor market.
She said its impact was greatest on the most vulnerable groups in the labor market in particular, and the most important of these are:
• Women in the private sector; The number of women working in the private sector decreased from 109,000 in 2019 to about 98,000 in 2020.
• Wage employees in the private sector who work without an employment contract: There are about 70,000 wage employees in the private sector working without an employment contract.
• Employed persons in the informal sector: There are 410,000 employed persons in the private sector; out of which 373,000 are males compared to about 37,000 females. Hence, the percentage of the employed persons in this sector comprised about 43% of the total employed persons in Palestine, with an average daily wage of 143 Israeli shekels ($44).
• Employed persons in the informal employment in Palestine (those employed persons in the informal sector in addition to wage employees who don’t receive any of the labor market rights whether it was retirement/end-of-service gratuity, a paid annual leave, nor paid sick leave): The percentage of employed persons in the informal employment in Palestine reached about 62% of the total employed persons; out of which 67% are males and 36% are females (66% in the West Bank and 51% in Gaza Strip).
• Youth (19- 29 years) are the most group suffering from unemployment. Thus, the unemployment rate among youth reached about 39%; 24% in the West Bank and 67% in Gaza Strip. Moreover, the youth graduates of those who hold a scientific qualification of an intermediate diploma or higher are the most group suffering from unemployment, as this rate reached about 54%; (36% in the West Bank and 79% in Gaza Strip).
This led to a decrease in the number of employed persons in the local market from 877,000 employed persons in 2019 to 830,000 employed persons in 2020, and the number of employed persons in Israel and settlements decreased from about 133,000 in 2019 to 125,000 employed persons in 2020, said Awad.
The results showed that there are 138,000 employees who were absent from their work in 2020, and this constitutes 14% of the total employees: 105,000 males and 33,000, females, compared to 69,000 absent employees in 2019.
The unemployment rate in Palestine increased in 2020 to reach about 26% of the labor force participants compared with about 25% in 2019. Whereas the number of unemployed persons decreased to 334,000 unemployed persons in 2020 compared to 344,000 unemployed persons in 2019.
At the level of region, the unemployment rate was about 16% in the West Bank in 2020 compared with about 15% in 2019, while the unemployment rate was about 47% in Gaza Strip in 2020 compared with 45% in 2019.
Also, the total labor underutilization increased from about 33% in 2019 to 36% (534,000 persons) in 2020, including 111,000 discouraged jobseekers and 16,000 in time-related underemployment.
Bethlehem Governorate in the West Bank recorded the highest unemployment rate in 2020 with a percentage of about 25%, followed by Jenin and Salfit Governorates with a rate of about 20% each. However, Jerusalem Governorate recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the West Bank with a rate of about 7%. In Gaza Strip, Deir al-Balah Governorate recorded the highest unemployment rate of about 53% followed by Rafah Governorate with a rate of about 52%, while North Gaza Governorate recorded the lowest rate of about 38%.
The numbers of employed persons reached 955,000; 604,000 in the West Bank, 226,000 in Gaza Strip, and 125,000 in Israel and Israeli settlements. There are about 690,000 wage employees in Palestine (385,000 of them in the West Bank, 187,000 in Gaza Strip, 100,000 in Israel and 18,000 in the Israeli settlements).
About 54% of wage employees in Palestine are working in the private sector, 273,000 in the West Bank and 100,000 in the Gaza Strip, compared with about 29% employed persons in the public sector, 17% of wage employees are working in Israel and Israeli Settlements. Thus, about 23% of wage employees from the West Bank are working in Israel and Israeli settlements.
The private sector was the most negatively affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, as the number of employees in this sector decreased by 38,000 employed persons between 2019 and 2020, especially those working in the activity of trade, restaurants and hotels as the number of workers in this activity decreased by about 27,000 employed persons during the same period. The number of workers in the activity of services and other branches decreased by about 6,000 workers, while those working in agriculture, forestry and fishing activities were the least affected.
About 28% of wage employees in the private sector work as professionals or technicians in Palestine; with a percentage of 18% for males and 75% for females. In addition, 17% of wage employees in Palestine work in crafts and related trade works: 21% for males and 2% for females.
The real average daily wage in the private sector was about 88 Israeli shekels ($27) in Palestine; about 43 shekels ($13) in Gaza Strip and about 104 shekels ($32) in the West Bank (wage employees in Israel and settlements are excluded).
The services activity in the private sector recorded the highest average of real daily wage of 116 shekels ($36) in the West Bank and 84 shekels ($26) in the Gaza Strip, followed by construction activity with about 114 shekels ($35) in the West Bank and 38 shekels ($11) in Gaza Strip. While the agriculture activity recorded the lowest average daily wage at 89 shekels ($27) in the West Bank and 20 shekels ($6) in Gaza Strip.
About 28% of wage employees in the private sector receive less than the minimum monthly wage of 1,450 shekels ($447) in Palestine, and less than one-third of the private sector’s wage employees receive benefits.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA)

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