First, Planning Minister Nuri al-Dulaimi announced that the unemployment rate was at 13.8%. That was up from 9.9% in 2018. Amongst the youth 27% were jobless. Then the World Bank’s annual report on Iraq added that more than 20% of the country’s youth did not have a job, were not looking for work, weren’t in school or getting training. People who aren’t actively seeking employment are not included in the jobless rate. That means 47% of young people in the country were not working.
Iraq has traditionally been one of the youngest countries in the Middle East. Of the estimated 38 million Iraqis, 19.8% are 15-24 years old and can be active in the workforce. Another 37% are 0-14 years. Providing jobs for the public has always been difficult especially for the budding youth. That’s because Iraq is the most oil dependent nation in the world leading the state to dominate the economy. That shuts out the private sector. That leaves the government as the largest employer but it has never been able to provide enough jobs. The lack of opportunities has also been a driving force for the protests that have broken out the last few years. The combination of a young population with few chances to find work is a formula for social unrest as Iraq has found out.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook
New Sabah, “Minister of Planning: 10 million Iraqis need government financial intervention, the poverty rate is 20%,” 5/5/20
World Bank, “Iraq Economic Monitor, Navigating the Perfect Storm (Redux)),” Spring 2020