While the most recently published unemployment figures show a national unemployment rate of 11.1 percent for fall 2009, forecasts indicate that this figure will increase to 15 percent by March 2013 – March 2014 [Persian calendar year 1392]. A review of the country’s unemployment rates over 10 years shows that in 1996/1997, 1.184 million men and 271,000 women were unemployed—equivalent to unemployment rates of 8.5 and 13.3 percent, respectively. In 2006/2007 , by contrast, 2.145 million men and 847,000 women were unemployed—equivalent to unemployment rates of 10.8 and 23.3 percent, respectively.
Unemployment Rates Since 2006/2007
|March 2006-March 2007 ||11.1 percent|
|March 2007-March 2008 ||10.5 percent|
|March 2008-March 2009 >/td>||10.4 percent|
|Spring 2009 [spring 1388]||11.1 percent|
|Fall 2009 [fall 1388]||11.3 percent|
Five Million More Employed Men in 10 Years
In 1996/1997 , there were 12.806 million employed men, and 1.765 million employed women in the country—equivalent to 55.6 and 7.9 percent, respectively, of the Iranian population aged 10 and above. In 2006/2007 , there were 17.695 million employed men, and 2.781 million employed women—equivalent to 58.5 and 9.5 percent, respectively, of the Iranian population aged 10 and above. [Employment rates are normally computed as a percentage of the labor force. In this article, however, Iran’s employment rates are presented as a percentage of the population 10 years of age and above.]
The Statistical Center of Iran has expressed concern regarding nine million people born from 1981 – 1990 who are entering the job market, causing some to predict that the country will have to assist 1.9 million new unemployed people in the coming years—a number of new jobless people that is unprecedented in recent years. Just as the number of employed people [is expected to] increase from 25 million currently to 27.7 million in 2013/2014 , the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 15 percent.
Employment Share by Sector: Industry, Agriculture, Services
The Percentage of Employed Men and Women in Each Economic Sector
A Decrease in the Number of Employed Married Men
In 1996/1997 , 78.4 percent of employed men and 79.9 percent of employed women were literate. In 2006/2007 , 87.8 percent of employed men and 87.7 percent of employed women were literate. In 1996/1997 , 78.2 percent of employed men were married, while this figure had decreased to 75.8 percent in 2006/2007 . In 1996/1997 , 61.1 percent of employed women were married—a figure which had increased to 61.7 percent in 2006/2007 .
The Predominance of Educated Employed Women Over to Men
In 1996/1997 , the number of jobs for women increased 6.2 percent compared to the previous year, while the increase in jobs for men was 2.4 percent. In 2006/2007 , jobs for women increased by 5.5 percent compared to the previous year, while men’s jobs increased 3.2 percent.
In 1996/1997 , 27.5 percent of employed women had advanced degrees, a figure which had reached 36.7 percent in 2006/2007 . In 1996/1997, 10.1 percent of employed men had advanced degrees—a figure which had reached 13 percent in 2006/2007 . For the original article in Persian, click here.
Iran’s unemployment problem is expected to grow worse in the coming years, as Iranian “baby boomers”—children born during the dramatic spike in the country’s birthrate in the 1980s—continue to enter the job market. According to the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI), in 2007, there were nine million Iranians between the ages of 20 and 24 who were ready to enter the workforce, while between March 2005 and March 2007 (the first two years of the Fourth Economic Development Plan) only 2 million new jobs were created—at least according to official figures. That same year, one million students gained admission to Iranian universities. As a result, in the next few years, nearly a million university graduates will enter the job market in search of professional work.
While there are no reliable, independent figures on unemployment in the country, the Iranian government’s official figures are considered by most observers to vastly underestimate the true extent of the problem. The government’s inability to address this problem in any meaningful way will fuel social unrest, in one form or another, particularly among jobless youth—something that Tehran seems to recognize as a looming challenge even based on its own calculations.
A lack of employment opportunities in rural areas, government mismanagement of the agricultural sector, and recent periods of drought have driven an increasing number of Iranians to urban areas in search of work. A variety of economic woes, however—including rampant inflation, economic stagnation, and a withering private sector—have made finding employment in Iranian cities difficult as well.
Mehr is a semiofficial news agency based in Tehran. Its managing director, Parviz Esmaeili also publishes the English-language Tehran Times.