The official unemployment rate in Lebanon increased almost threefold to 29.6 percent at the start of the year, according to a UN-government survey. In January 2022, Lebanon’s unemployment rate increased from 11.4% in 2018-2019 to 29.6%, which means almost one third of the active labor force was unemployed, according to the report.
Lebanese economy collapsed two years ago as a result of corrupt practices and financial mismanagement, with the national currency losing 95 percent of its value and poverty rates rising. The International Labor Organization, a UN agency, and Lebanon’s Central Administration of Statistics conducted a rare joint survey. They found the informal economy accounted for around 30 percent of employment.
According to the report, one of the most alarming findings was the huge growth in underutilized labor from 16.2 percent in 2018-2019 to 50.1 percent in January 2022; underutilized labor refers to people who could work more hours than they currently do. As the main parties field candidates in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, the issue of unemployment has not figured prominently in their campaigns.
It is worth noting that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), when it agreed to its initial rescue deal with Lebanon’s government last month, recommended reforming the government’s enormous public sector, which employs a quarter of the work force.