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Moroccan graduates struggle as unemployment rate soars

A vegetable market in Casablanca. The jobless rate among Moroccan women is almost double that of men Reuters/Youssef Boudlal/Illustration
A vegetable market in Casablanca. The jobless rate among Moroccan women is almost double that of men
  • Jobless total reaches 1.6m
  • 20% of graduates out of work
  • 15-24 age bracket hardest hit

Almost one-fifth of graduates in Morocco cannot find work in the country as the number of jobless continues to soar.

The unemployment rate increased to 13.5 percent in the third quarter of the year compared to the same period last year, according to Morocco’s statistics office, HCP.

The total number of unemployed stood at 1.625 million, up 18 percent on Q3 2022, in a population of over 37.8 million.

The increase was most keenly felt among new graduates, with the rate increasing by 2.1 percentage points from 17.7 percent to 19.8 percent. The rate for non-graduates increased to 5.5 percent.

“The economy is unable to create enough jobs for the young people entering the labour force,” said Francois Conradie, lead political economist at Oxford Economics Africa.

In the 15-to-24 age bracket, unemployment stood at 38.2 percent, while for those aged 25 to 34 it was 20.9 percent.

The HCP statistics also showed that the jobless rate among men was 11.7 percent and women almost double at 19.8 percent.

Conradie said the unemployment issue could be “the most important socio-economic issue in Morocco, and means the economy is doing less well than it should be, because so much human potential is idle”.

The employment rate among Moroccan women, and the causes, was the focus of the “Her Day for Her” event in Casablanca in March, held by the Jadara Foundation.

“Certainly, the causes [of female unemployment] are numerous, two of which we are trying to tackle: self-censorship and absence of inspiring models,” Hamid Ben Elafdil, the Jadara Foundation president, said in a statement.

Earlier this year the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted unemployment in Morocco would reach 12 percent by the end of this year, before falling to 11.7 percent in 2024, “indicating the potential for improved job prospects in the coming years”.

The report forecast that Morocco’s economy will grow 2.4 percent in 2023, following a modest 1.3 percent in 2022, and an even more robust 3.6 percent in 2024.

“The government considers job creation a priority, and its economic policies are thus aimed at encouraging FDI (foreign direct investment) that will create jobs,” said Conradie.

Morocco attracted $15.3 billion in FDI in 2022, according to a report by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF). 

“The policy is not unsuccessful, but the number of jobs created by means of these investments has so far been too low to bring unemployment down – or even to arrest its increase,” added Conradie.

In its most recent regional economic report, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development estimated Morocco’s economy would grow 3.1 percent this year. This is up from the 1.3 percent rate recorded in 2022 when a drought compounded the adverse impact of tighter global financing conditions.

Last month Morocco won the rights to jointly host the Fifa World Cup in 2030 alongside Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

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