Thursday, September 06, 2007


Unemployment in Kurdistan

(Kurdish Globe) - Foreign laborers being imported into Kurdistan, who gladly work at lower wages than local laborers, are quickly rendering Kurdish workers jobless, elevating the region's jobless rate. Many in this overcrowded city of Erbil don't rake in millions of dinars monthly. In fact, there are some who take delight at the opportunity to earn even a little money, even enough to buy bread.
If you examine the Erbil market, you will see businessmen who work out big deals and count their money inside the shops; contrarily, there are a great number of people waiting outside the stores to enter and spend the little money they have. Ahmad Hama Ahmad, 48, works as a laborer to feed his eight children and pay rent. He took out a handkerchief to clean his wrinkled face after he sat down under a wall, shaded by a lorry, which he and his colleague had just finished unloading.
"I have to do this work however unbearable it is to me. I am old. I can get no other job," said Ahmad. "Getting a good job means you have to have some education or a close relative to help you find suitable work." When asked how much he earns daily, he sighed and said, "It depends on the market and our luck; some days 10 thousand dinars (about $8), some days 15 thousand..."
Due to Kurdistan Region's safe conditions in comparison to other parts of Iraq, the noticeable economic development has produced ample employment opportunities for laborers. However, many Kurdish laborers remain jobless. Most of the companies, contractors, and big markets, and even some governmental sectors, prefer foreign laborers because they work harder and ask for little money. This in turn has narrowed the job marker for native workers.
"The use of foreign workers is not to our advantage; it will raise the unemployment rate throughout the region," said Dr. Hussein Chawshin, assistant professor of Economic and Finance at Salahaddin University. "Apart form this, these laborers are taking a large amount of money out of the region." According to some media reports, Iraq's unemployment rate has risen and approximately 60 % of Iraqi people are jobless. Kurdistan Region in the north, which is undergoing wide economic and construction development, has also been affected by the high rate of unemployment.
Alongside foreign workers, several thousand Arab families fleeing civil unrest, religious conflict, and terror threats in southern and the center of Iraq officially settled in Kurdistan Region. This further decreases work opportunities for Kurds. The stable security situation in Kurdistan and the investment law have been attracting a vast number of foreign companies to come to work and serve people in Kurdistan Region.
"We are mostly in need of production rather than service. The government should start with the small business and little by little develop it for people to work. " In 2006-07, thousands of college students graduated. This came at the same time the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) stopped accepting employment. According to KRG statistics, there are over 1,100,000 employees who are paid by the government, but until now there are no exact unemployment statistics released by the region.
"I think there is no real 'joblessness' in Kurdistan; most people have jobs, but the money they are earning is not enough," said Farhan Muhammed Rasoul, head of Erbil's professional training center. "Since 2004 up to now, 11,835 people have enrolled here, but investigations show that most of them have work and are searching for better jobs," Ahmad said.

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