The Iraqi government announced that its initial plan to fight unemployment in the 2011 fiscal year is to create more public employees. Azzaman newspaper reported that parliament wants to add 171,000 new jobs this year. 100,000 will be in the security forces, and the remaining 71,000 will be in the other ministries. There was an earlier story that the cabinet wanted to add 200,000 policemen just for Baghdad alone this year. These numbers are not only inadequate to counter the jobless rate, but they will only add more unnecessary workers to an already bloated government.
Currently over half of the Iraqi workforce is unemployed or underemployed. 25-27% of Iraqi workers are jobless, while underemployment is estimated at 33%. More importantly for the future, 240,000 new workers enter the job market each year, and those young people aged 15-29 have the highest unemployment rate at 57%.
Baghdad, and organizations such as the International Monetary Fund have all said that they want to develop the private sector in the country, but it appears that for now, the government is going to look to itself rather than businesses to try to create jobs. The government is already the largest employer in the country with 4 million workers, and in 2010 salaries and pensions took up 72% of the budget. The deputy Planning Minister criticized the plan saying that the authorities can’t create enough positions to adequately fight unemployment, and that 30% of public employees only work part-time to begin with. If the 2011 budget includes this idea it would only add more useless jobs to the inefficient public sector.
AK News, “200,000 Police to be Recruited in Baghdad,” Iraq Business News, 1/8/11
Department of Defense, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq June 2010,” 9/7/10
Hasan, Sarra, “Iraqi government to create 171,000 new jobs but unemployment still high,” Azzaman, 1/18/11
Iraq-Business News, “Transferring Iraq to a Private-Sector State as IMF applies conditions to grant,” 4/5/10
The Iraqi Dinar, “The Iraqi government for the first time reveals: Unemployment in Iraq, 27 percent and foreign debt 126 billion dollars?” 9/13/10
Nakhel News, Al-Mada, “Four Million Government Employees In Iraq,” MEMRI Blog, 1/3/11
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 4/30/10