Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Influx Of Foreign Workers Into Iraq Increases Unemployment For Youth

The advisor to Iraq’s prime minister on labor affairs said that the number of foreign workers in the country
is constantly increasing. There are around 1.5 million right now. That exacerbates unemployment especially amongst the youth.


Many laborers enter illegally. Some come in as religious tourists and stay while others are smuggled in by human trafficking rings. Many are paid in dollars and send part of their wages back to their home countries to support their families depriving Iraq of hard currency.


In January 2024 the World Food Program reported that youth unemployment in Iraq was over 35%. 30% of the country was below the poverty level as well with 70% of the poor being young people. These foreign workers are in direct competition with that age group.


The country has always struggled with finding jobs for the youthful and fast growing population. That’s because the economy is dominated by the government and oil. Jobs are handed out as part of patronage networks. That has led to an explosion in public positions growing from 1 million in 2004 to over 4 million in 2024. There are only so many spots that can be created that way. The nation is also the most oil dependent country in the world, an industry that provides few employment opportunities. Finally the government has completely failed at promoting the private sector which might be a solution to these problems.


The result is that every year more and more Iraqis graduate from high school and college and there are few opportunities for them. On top of that Iraqis are acting like their neighbors in the Gulf and using foreign workers for low paying service jobs. There have been two responses by the young. The first was annual protests which were put down by the government using force. The second is increasing immigration out of Iraq towards Europe. Experts say that Baghdad has no plan to deal with these issues so the situation will only become worse.




Kurdistan 24, “More than 10,000 illegal immigrants entered Iraqi since 2023,” 3/31/24


Al Mada, “Job opportunities are disappearing … a quarter of a million graduates annually and the 2024 budget has no job degrees,” 4/3/24


Ministry Of Labor And Social Affairs; Foreign Workers Control Half Of The Job Opportunities In Iraq,” 1/19/24


Al Rafidain, “Adviser To The Prime Minister: Foreign Workers Are Constantly Increasing In The Country Despite Unemployment,” 5/6/24

- “Economists: The Increase In Foreign Workers In Iraq Is An Unhealthy Indicator,” 2/16/24

- “Economists: More Than 6 Million People Are Unemployed Throughout Iraq,” 12/4/23

- “Out Of A Million … Only 43 Thousand Foreign Workers Were Registered In Iraq,” 4/5/24

- “Economists: The Number Of Employees Increased From One Million In 2004 To More Than 4 Million,” 4/12/24

- “World Food Program: Youth Unemployment Rate Exceeds 35 Percent,” 1/19/24


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