Unemployment in Lebanon Just Hit 40%

According to the World Bank, around 23,000 individuals set foot in the Lebanese labor market every year. But for this market to fit all of them, it needs to create at least 6 times the work opportunities currently available.

This means that, out of the 23,000 citizens, only 3,833 do secure a job, which is around 17% only.

As for the rate of unemployed individuals in Lebanon, the answer is 36%… in early 2019.

This was before the crisis, before the disappearance of the dollar from the market, and before this readily-high rate soared to 40%, which is the current rate of unemployment in Lebanon.

The president of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Night-Clubs, and Pastries in Lebanon, Tony El-Rami, recently disclosed to Annahar some very concerning numbers about his sector.

According to El-Rami, between September 2019 and February 2020, more than 785 restaurants and leisure institutions have closed down in Lebanon, including 120 establishments in Sidon alone.

As a result of this devastating reality, more than 160,000 people have lost their jobs in the same timeframe, an Infopro study reported. More than 25,000 of them used to work at restaurants and hotels before they shut down during the crisis.

What’s worse is the fact that many of the discharged employees receive little to no severance pay for the years they spent working for their employers.

Most of those who did keep their jobs, on the other hand, have been described to be in a state of “disguised unemployment.”

This means slicing the wages of employees “into low levels that affect people’s ability to live a decent life,” said economist Professor Jassim Ajjaqa. Similarly, a great number of employees are now working reduced shifts and earning less than before.

Today, an approximate total of 300,000 individuals are unemployed in Lebanon. And, as more companies and institutions edge towards bankruptcy in light of the worsening economic disaster, the number is expected to rise dramatically.

The President of the Hamra Street Merchants Association and its branches in Beirut, Zuhair Itani, revealed to Al-Jazeera that sales have dropped by 70-80% in numerous businesses in the capital since late 2019.

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It should be safe to assume that the same decline applies to most businesses in most areas across Lebanon, considering that the economic crisis has struck all sectors in the country.

“The situation has reached dangerous levels in Lebanon,” Former Minister of Social Affairs Richard Kouymjian has declared after issuing a disheartening warning regarding the future of Lebanon: 

“Two million Lebanese will live below the poverty line in 2020 if the new government does not give special attention to this issue.”

Not just the lives of 2 million, but those of 6.83 million people who are dependent on the “special attention” of this new government. There’s no more time for empty promises and useless edicts. The Lebanese people have suffered enough already!

There is a strongly valid reason why the people have been yelling Thawra for over four months now. This is not an uprise that has ensued from a simple collective desire to rebel.

The people have long realized that we are heading to the abyss because they have been painfully living its effects since before the Revolution. 

They’ve been yelling Thawra for over four months and the officials still pretend not hearing the cry of the sinking nation.

We are in a predicament that requires the government to prioritize urgent actions. Up till now, we haven’t heard of any such plan, let alone seen any implemented.

The officials should realize that it’s time to put politics and talks aside and start acting effectively for one sole purpose: Save the country.

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