Unemployment in Egypt

The Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) revealed in its most recent report that, compared to the previous quarter, unemployment in the country rose during first quarter of 2011 by three percent, reaching 11.9%1, the highest unemployment rate in Egypt over the past decade. Experts say that government policies and the incompatibility of both the levels of education and training with market needs are main reasons behind unemployment in Egypt.

Some believe that the unemployed have the right to receive aid which would enable them to sustain themselves, until the state provides them with appropriate education and job opportunities, which they believe to be the role of the state.

Proponents argue that allocating aid to the unemployed would restore economic stability by allowing unemployed consumers to increase demand, restoring the wheel of production to its rightful course. This would prompt producers to raise the levels of production, increasing the demand for labour. Supporters of state intervention in providing such benefits base their argument on case studies such as the United States, whose law states that the unemployed must receive a compensation to stimulate economic stability.

Meanwhile, some oppose this idea, saying providing aid to the unemployed would increase the unemployment rate and make unemployed workers less motivated to look for jobs until the aid period is almost over. Further, there is no survey of the number of unemployed people, places of work, or an accurate definition for an 'unemployed' person in a state where 70% of the labour force works in the informal sector as peddlers.

Also, a country like the United States gives aid only to those who have worked before, as precaution to ensure that the aid does not go to those who do not deserve it. However, the situation is much more complicated in a country like Egypt where up to 25% of the youth are unemployed, and where 66% of the unemployed have never worked in their entire lives.