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Morocco’s Unemployment Rate Reaches Highest Point Since 2001

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures that came with it led to the loss of nearly 600,000 jobs between April and June.

Rabat – Morocco’s unemployment rate has soared to 12.3% in the second quarter of 2020, from April to June. The figure is the highest recorded since 2001. By annual comparison, the unemployment rate increased by 4.2 points. In the second quarter of 2019, it stood at 8.1%.

The unemployment rate rose at similar levels in cities and in rural areas. In urban centers, the unemployment rate rose from 11.7% in 2019 to 15.6% in 2020. Meanwhile, the rate in rural areas witnessed an annual increase from 3% to 7.2%.

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Unemployment in Morocco remains most prevalent among young people aged 15 to 24, with 33.4% of them unemployed. University graduates (18.2%) and women (15.6%) are also significantly affected by unemployment.

Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP) released the data in its report on the domestic job market’s evolution on August 6.

COVID-19’s impact on unemployment in Morocco

The rise in unemployment is primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Morocco’s state of health emergency, and the lockdown measures.

The three factors have caused the Moroccan economy to lose 589,000 jobs between the second quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2020. Rural areas lost the majority of jobs, 520,000, while, urban areas lost 69,000.

The most affected economic sector is agriculture, forestry, and fishing, with 477,000 jobs lost, followed by industry (69,000 lost jobs), and services (30,000).

Besides the rise in Morocco’s unemployment rate, the average number of weekly working hours per person fell from 45 to 22 hours. The decrease amounts to 265 million less weekly working hours in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Considering full-time jobs equal 48 weekly working hours, the amount of hours lost equates to over 5.5 million full-time positions.

The decrease in working hours affected all economic sectors. However, construction (71% fewer working hours), industry (63%), and services (54%) were the most affected.

Matching the rise in unemployment, underemployment also significantly increased. In the second quarter of 2020, 496,000 people, including 311,000 in urban areas and 185,000 in rural areas, became underemployed. The total number of underemployed workers in Morocco reached 1,477,000.

The number represents 13% of Moroccan workers and employees. The most prevalent forms of underemployment in Morocco relates to the number of hours (9.1% of employees), as well as a mismatch between training and revenue (3.8%).

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