Jobless rate in Iraq reduced to 20% from 38%, says ministry

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By Shaymaa Adel

Azzaman, January 23, 2013

There has been a slash in unemployment rates in Iraq but little change in poverty levels, the Ministry of Planning says.

“Unemployment rate fell to 20% in 2012 from 38% in 2004,” said Abdulzahra al-Hindawi, the ministry’s spokesperson.

However, he added, the country still faced high poverty levels “which currently stand at 23% of the population.”

He said the statistics about poverty levels relied on surveys in 2009, adding that the ministry carried out extensive surveys in 2012 but the data still needed analysis.

Hindawi predicted further reductions in unemployment and a drop in poverty level due to the government five-year economic plan which he said would create two million new job opportunities.

The Planning Ministry, he said, has taken “strategic and practical measures” in the form of reconstruction and development projects that would eventually improve living conditions for the whole country.

Not everyone believes the ministry’s economic predictions for the future.

The head of the parliament’s economic commission Mohammed Khalil dismissed the ministry’s plans and described them as “ink on paper.”

Khalil said surveys conduction by his commission showed that there were at least three million below-poverty people in Iraq and the reported reduction in unemployment rate was not based on the reality of the situation of the job market in the country.