As of the first quarter of 2008, unemployment in the occupied Palestinian territories stands at 28.9 percent according to the relaxed definition, and 22.6 percent according to International Labor Organization standards (which excludes “discouraged workers” who have given up finding a job).
Unemployment is highest among the young (standing at 37.3 percent for 15-19 year-olds and 36.8 percent among 20-24 year-olds) and in Gaza (29.8 percent, compared to 19 percent in the West Bank). Participation rates are low, at just over 40 percent (around 66 percent for men but only 15 percent for women).
IMPACT OF CONFLICT
Since the outbreak of the second Intifada, employment in Israel and the settlements has nose-dived. This was partially compensated for by a dramatic increase in public-sector employment, but it is the policy of the current government to reduce this number, and by 2008 it had cut around 30,000 government jobs. Almost two-thirds of Palestinian workers are employed in the services sector, while agriculture accounts for around 15 percent (depending on the season), industry around 13 percent and construction at nine percent.
As well as the economic devastation caused by the occupation, Palestinians have to cope with a population growth rate of 3.5 percent. With 57 percent of the population below the age of 20 in 2008, the labor market will have to absorb an extra 500,000 people in the subsequent five years.