By Massoud A. Derhally
Official figures reveal increase in jobless numbers in Q1 amid country's economic woes
The number of people unemployed in Jordan increased in the first three months of the year to 12.8 percent from 11.4 percent in the same period in 2012, according to the Department of Statistics.
The number of men unemployed was 11.1 percent compared with 20.5 percent for women, the government agency said. Unemployment was highest among graduates, which recorded a 17.2 percent jobless rate in the period.
Regional upheaval has put a strain on the desert kingdom's economy with Jordan's fiscal position deteriorating in the past two years.
Hosting nearly 500,000 Syrian refugees is costing Jordan about $550m a year, King Abdullah said last month when he met with President Barack Obama who was touring the region. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that the number of Syrian refugees in Jordan will reach 1.2 million by the end of the year.
The US has promised to give the kingdom $200m in aid in addition to the regular assistance it gives Jordan.
Jordan’s economy grew by 2.7 per cent in 2012, less than International Monetary Fund forecasts however faster than the previous year, as a result of the unrest in Syria and a slowdown in foreign grants and aid, according to figures from the state-run Department of Statistics.
The kingdom’s economy had been projected to grow by about 3 percent last year by the IMF while gross domestic product expanded 2.6 percent in 2011. The kingdom’s economy is forecast to expand 3.5 percent in 2013, according to the Washington-based organization.
Unrest across the Arab world over the past two years and in particular in neighbouring Syria has cost Jordan's economy as much as $4bn, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).
The desert kingdom incurred about $1bn in economic output losses in 2011 when the protests swept across the Arab world and led to the toppling of four leaders. In 2012, the impact on the kingdom's economy was estimated at $3bn or 3.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by IIF.
The kingdom of 6.2m people relies on foreign aid and grants from the US, Europe and the oil rich Gulf countries, to finance its fiscal and current account deficits.