Lebanon Businessnews News

Unemployment rate
hits almost 30 percent
Youth joblessness doubles

compared with 2018-2019

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The unemployment rate surged to almost 30 percent in January 2022, up from 11.4 percent in 2018-2019, according to the Follow-up Labor Force Survey (LFS) 2022 carried out by the Central Administration of Statistics (CAS).

The joblessness rate appears to have been stable since mid-June 2020. Previous surveys carried out by InfoPro Research had shown that at the beginning of 2019, the number of jobless people was estimated at around 200,000 with an unemployment rate of 11 percent but the unemployment rate rose to 30 percent as early as June 2020 as an additional 350,000 people in the private sector lost their jobs during that period due to the economic recession, protests, and the Covid-19 pandemic. “The fragility of the private sector had started since the beginning of 2019, with companies reducing their overhead and number of employees, and lowering salaries. By October 17, most companies had already depleted their reserves, and many had lost their ability to resist the crisis, contrary to the situation in previous security or economic emergencies during the past 25 years,” InfoPro said in its survey ‘Impact of Crisis Effect on Jobs and Salaries’ that was updated in June 2020.

According to the CAS survey, the unemployment rate of the 15-24 years age bracket jumped to 48 percent in January 2022 from around 23 percent in 2018-2019. Nearly half the unemployed were in long-term unemployment. Almost a third of the unemployed had been looking for employment for two years or more.

The largest increase in unemployment was recorded in Baalbek-Hermel, where the unemployment rate soared by 30 percentage points over the same period to around 41 percent.

Source: Central Administration of Statistics

The labor force participation rate (LFPR) dropped by more than five percentage points to around 43 percent from nearly 49 percent. This indicates that in January 2022 “less than half of the working-age population were either working for pay or profit, or seeking employment,” said CAS in the survey.

The proportion of those working long hours (more than 60 hours per week) fell to around 19 percent from 29 percent.

When translated into (real) dollars, wages plunged substantially over the period. In 2018-2019, two-thirds of the median wage amounted to LL633,300 (around $422 at the official exchange rate of LL1,500 prevailing at that time). In 2022, the low pay threshold was LL1,066,700 ($42.7 based on the prevailing market exchange rate of LL25,000).

“The soaring inflation rate led to a more than five-fold increase of consumer prices between the two surveys. At the same time, the movement of the market exchange rate of the US dollar to the lira during the same period resulted in a decline of more than 90 percent of the value of the LL to the USD. The survey results clearly indicate that one major impact of the compounded crises affecting Lebanon since 2019 was a substantial loss of the purchasing power of employees,” CAS said.

The CAS survey, which involved a sample of more than 5,400 households with around 22,000 household members of Lebanese and non-Lebanese residents, was conducted with financial and technical assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Date Posted: Jul 13, 2022
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