Egypt is among the three biggest economies in Africa along with Nigeria and South Africa, with a GDP amounting to almost 403 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. The country is also the third most populated on the continent. Yet, the employment market in Egypt has faced several obstacles, including political instability in the last 10 years, lower employment rates among women and youth, a large informal market, and the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Egypt also has a growing young population that needs to be absorbed in the job market. However, the country faces a barrier to fulfilling that, as the number of new jobs created has dropped noticeably in recent years.
Political instability and higher unemployment among youth and women
In the few years after the ousting of President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak in the 25 January revolution of 2011, the country faced significant political turmoil. This had a severe effect on the job market. For instance, the unemployment rate jumped to 11.9 percent in 2011 from nearly 8.8 percent the previous year. Further, the rate continued to rise until 13.15 percent in 2013, a peak since 1999. It subsequently dropped until the COVID-19 pandemic and then increased again as a result. Notably, women in the country had a significantly higher unemployment rate compared to men. As of the third quarter of 2021, the unemployment rate among women was 15.3 percent against 5.9 percent among men. Moreover, the unemployment rate was higher for the young population aged 20-24 years.
A large shadow economy
Egypt has a large informal job market, which corresponded to almost two-thirds of its working-age population as of 2020. In the same year, nearly 17.5 million people were employed outside formal establishments. Among the drawbacks is less protection for the workers through social security means, as well as a smaller tax base generating less revenue for public services. In addition, the majority of the enterprises engaging in the informal sector in the country operated in industries such as wholesale and retail trade or repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, which could cause serious work injuries.
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