Jordan's unemployment rate reached 19 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, according to a Department of Statistics report released yesterday. This marked an increase of 0.6 per cent compared to the same time last year, and the second-highest unemployment rate in the kingdom's history.
Male unemployment reached 16.4 per cent, while female unemployment reached 28.9 per cent. This large disparity between the genders was further reflected in the unemployment rate among holders of university degrees, which stands at 25.6 per cent for men and 78 per cent for women.
The female labour force participation rate in Jordan is around 14 per cent, according to the World Bank, the third lowest rate in the world. In January, Jordan unveiled its Women's Economic Empowerment Action Plan at the Mashreq Conference in Beirut, committing to amend the labour law and relevant legislation to promote economic participation, aiming to increase the female labour force participation rate to 24 per cent by 2025.
Wars in neighbouring Iraq and Syria have led to a surge in the number of refugees in the Jordan, increasing the available workforce and providing a pool of cheap labour. The resource-poor country's economy is also close to breaking point, with public debt standing at 28.3 billion dinars ($39.9 billion), nearly equal to the country's economic output. As a result, King Abdullah II has requested loans from a number of international bodies and countries.