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    Oxfam: Moroccan Labor Market Excludes Women and Youth

    Oxfam says the main weaknesses of Morocco’s labor market are a job creation deficit, a rising youth unemployment, and the dominance of the informal sector.

    14 Jan 2022

    Rabat - With a job creation rate that is insufficient to absorb the increase in the working-age population, Morocco’s labor market is now faced with an epidemic of increasing youth unemployment, expanding informal sector, and deepening gender disparities.

    This bleak picture of the state of Morocco’s labor market is the main conclusion of Oxfam’s latest report on the North African country’s persisting challenges on the employment front.

    Titled “Labor Market in Morocco,” the report highlighted that successive governments have not fared well in terms of job creation. Despite promises to close the country’s widening unemployment gap, the number of jobs created in recent years is not remotely close to meeting or at least mitigating the vast employment needs created by a steady increase in the working-age population, the report found.

    Oxfam, a British confederation of charitable organizations, announced the release of its policy paper on Morocco’s labor market on January 12 amid the deepening economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The immediate impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the Moroccan labor market has reinforced its pre-existing weaknesses,” said Hiba El Khamal, the head of Oxfam’s Economic and Environmental Justice program. “The destruction of jobs, as well as the jobs that have not been created, are contributing to the already massive increase in inactivity and unemployment.”

    The shortcomings of Morocco’s labor market “are indeed too great to cause a rapid and sustainable increase in the GDP per capita and to include the most vulnerable populations,” Oxfam’s Advocacy and Campaign Manager stated.

    According to the report, the main weaknesses of Morocco’s labor market are a deficit of job creation, the rise of youth unemployment, and the dominance of the informal sector.

    Morocco’s population grew by 7.7 million people between 2000 and 2020 with an annual average of 186,000 people. As a result, the working-age population increased by around 7.5 million people.

    To meet the growing demand for jobs, the Moroccan labor market should have created an average of 280,000 jobs per year, Oxfam noted, highlighting that only 90,000 have been created.

    Despite a gradual increase in school enrollments across Morocco, urban youth unemployment in the country is still a prominent problem due to the lack of job opportunities in the labor market, Oxfam found.

    The unemployment rate reached 24% among 15-24 years-old across Morocco and 38% in urban areas in 2019. During the same period, the unemployment rate reached 15% among 25-34 years-old nationwide and 20% in major cities.

    In August 2021, Morocco’s High Commissioner for Planning (HCP) reported the rise of the national unemployment rate from 12.3% to 12.8% in the second quarter of the year. In urban areas, the unemployment rate moved from 15.6% to 18.2%, marking a sharp increase.

    Amid the prevalence of youth unemployment and the widespread lack of job creation, 53% of Morocco’s commerce is covered by informal employment, the report stated. This type of employment includes self-employed street micro-commerce merchants and covers a wide range of actors, ranging from women and children to school dropouts and migrants.

    Women remain over-represented in sectors such as domestic work, agriculture, informal economy, and textiles and clothing which exposes them to challenging working conditions with little to no social protection.

    Citing data compiled in 2019 by HCP, Oxfam’s report stated that only 21.54% of Morocco’semployed labor force are women.

    “Regardless of their level of education, women have more difficulty than men in finding employment at an equivalent level of education,” Oxfam affirmed in the statement announcing the release of its report.

    While the report criticizes Morocco’s labor market, it acknowledges the new government’s plans to create more jobs in hopes of mitigating the socio-economic issues associated with a chronically rising national unemployment rate.

    Oxfam notably mentioned a government program that is projected to create one million jobs over five years, reduce social and territorial disparities by 7.4%, increase women’s participation rate by 10%, and generalize compensation for employment loss by 2025.

    On January 12, Morocco’s Head of Government Aziz Akhannouch officially launched Awrach, another social program that is set to create 250,000 direct jobs in 2022 and 2023.

    But with Morocco’s working-age population slated to rise even further in the coming years, it remains to be seen whether the country’s new coalition government will deliver on its ambitious social policies.


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