Morocco sees no drop in joblessness in 2007
sbs [ PM ] [ ]
October 10, 2006 11:10PM
RABAT - Measures to reduce Morocco’s dependence on agriculture and boost economic growth are starting to kick in, but high unemployment will still not fall next year, the kingdom’s employment minister said.


With 2007 an election year, the ruling coalition of technocrats, conservatives and socialists is keen to show voters that reforms including public sector payroll cuts and more flexible labour rules are beginning to pay off.

Evidence things are getting better for Morocco’s millions of poor would also help deter support for the Islamist opposition, which regularly upbraids the government over poverty and corruption and hopes to make strong gains in the polls.

According to an official report early this year, the kingdom needs to create 400,000 jobs per year over the next ten years to prevent mass unemployment that would threaten its stability and emerging liberal democracy.

Minister for employment and professional training Mustapha Mansouri said that figure was unlikely to be achieved in 2007, when the government expects economic growth of 3.5 to 4 percent, allowing for the creation of 300,000 jobs.

“We have a little over 1 million unemployed and we also have around 350,000 people who come to the job market every year,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“You need a performance of 5 to 6 percent (growth) to create enough jobs for those people arriving on the work market and to eat a little into the backlog of existing jobless.”

For this year, the government sees growth of 7.5 percent and Mansouri said that would allow unemployment to fall to around 8 or 9 percent from 11 percent in 2005.

That is worse than the 7.7 percent achieved in the second quarter alone, when the number of jobless fell below 1 million for the first time in 13 years as a strong harvest boosted farm incomes and the construction industry stepped up hiring.

Mansouri said that was “quite unusual” as it was calculated at a moment when there was a very high rate of activity.

Different reality
Official employment data may veer widely from the reality on Morocco’s streets due to a vast informal economy which, according to some estimates, is bigger even than the formal sector.

Working out who is employed is not easy in a country full of family-run shops, where factory workers are hired and fired as contracts come and go, makeshift stalls offer fruit or toys and men wander the streets offering to shine shoes or dispose of scrap metal.

Morocco’s formal employment sector has its own problems after the education system failed to adapt to a rapidly-changing job market.

Young graduates trained for a life in the administration have been left high and dry as public sector payroll cuts barred the door to state employment and weak levels of investment meant too few private sector jobs.

“Unfortunately our system of education continued to train generalists who were no longer able to find a place in the productive system,” said Mansouri.

He said education was being reformed and the government planned to spend 2 billion dirhams ($228 million) over three years to help Moroccan graduates retrain and 30,000 of them set up their own companies.

Some 5,000 have already applied since the scheme was launched a few months ago, he added.

The government says it is addressing problems that have put firms off investing in job creation — an ill-adapted education system, poor infrastructure, an opaque and confusing bureaucracy, grindingly slow justice and high payroll taxes.
Morocco joblessness to remain high

Tuesday 10 October 2006, 19:50 Makka Time, 16:50 GMT


Rabat should create 400,000 jobs per year to face unemployment


Measures taken to reduce Morocco's dependence on agriculture and boost economic growth are starting to take effect, but high unemployment will not begin falling until next year.


Mustapha Mansouri, Morroco's minister for employment and professional training, has said that the government expects economic growth of 3.5 to 4 per cent in 2007, allowing for the creation of 300,000 jobs.

According to an official report early this year, the kingdom needs to create 400,000 jobs per year over the next ten years to prevent mass unemployment that could threaten its stability.

"You need a performance of 5 to 6 per cent [growth] to create enough jobs for those people arriving on the work market and to eat a little into the backlog of existing jobless." Mansouri told Reuters in an interview.

For the year 2006, the government sees growth rate of 7.5 per cent and Mansouri said that would allow unemployment to fall to about 8 or 9 per cent from 11 percent in 2005.

With 2007 an election year, the ruling coalition of technocrats, conservatives and socialists is keen to show voters that reforms including public sector payroll cuts and more flexible labour rules are beginning toprove successful.

Employment reality

Official employment data may differ widely from the reality on Morocco's streets due to a vast informal economy which, according to some estimates, is even bigger than the formal sector.

"Unfortunately our system of education continued to train generalists who were no longer able to find a place in the productive system"

Mustapha Mansouri, the Minister for employment and professional training

Working out who is employed is not easy in a country full of family-run shops, makeshift stalls offering fruit or toys, men wandering the streets offering to shine shoes or dispose of scrap metal, and where factory workers are hired and fired as contracts come and go.

Morocco's formal employment sector has its own problems after the education system failed to adapt to a rapidly-changing job market.

Young graduates have been left unemployed as public sector payroll cuts barred the door to state employment, and weak levels of investment meant few private sector jobs.

"Unfortunately our system of education continued to train generalists who are no longer able to find a place in the productive system," said Mansouri.

He said education was being reformed and the government planned to spend $228 million over three years to train Moroccan graduates and to help 30,000 of them set up their own companies.

About 5,000 have already applied since the scheme was introduced a few months ago, he added.

The government says it is addressing problems of an ill-adapted education system, poor infrastructure, bureaucracy, slow justice and high payroll taxes that have put firms off investing in job creation.
These stats don't take into account the informal sector which by definition is impossible to measure, it accounts for some of the growth we've seen recently.

One remark though : when you read this, you have an impression of déjà-vu because our technocrats seem to be applying to the letter the IMF/World Bank manual without tailoring it to the specifics of our country.
If they don't correct the course within the next 2/3 years, this is going to bite them in the ass because of the public spending slashes that usually accompanies and conditions the outpouring of investments or loans.
If memory serves, the public spending are not to exceed 15 % of the total budget, but in a country like ours where we're just beginning to structure a social net, it's going to be difficult to maintain.